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Brussels, 25 April 2006

eGovernment Action Plan: Frequently Asked Questions

What will it mean for you and for all Europeans?

eGovernment can make a practical difference to the daily lives of all citizens. - Here are some examples of how:

  • The mobile worker: securing your pension: Dirk, a Belgian national worked for a few years in France. Using innovative eGovernment services, he can access the French pension system online, check his pension rights and make a claim using his Belgian id card!
  • No more queuing to claim social benefit entitlements: Lena, a single mother on a low income living in an isolated area in Sweden learns she will be unemployed in 2 weeks. Thankfully, the process of requesting her social benefit entitlements, (e.g. training, housing allowance, job search guidance, etc.), won’t add to her stress. There is no need to contact several different departments, stand in queues, fill out form after form – instead, thanks to a recent ICT innovation in her area, she sends one message using her digital TV and receives confirmation on her mobile a few days later!
  • Public procurement: An Italian SME producing office furniture wants to make an offer to a municipality in Sweden. The company simply logs onto the eProcurement Web site used by the municipality, registers, uploads the offer and authorises the municipality to access its “virtual administrative dossier” (required administrative information available in a distributed and secure online environment). The offer, with all the essential documents, is made!

Why is the European Commission launching this Action Plan?

To accelerate the delivery of the tangible benefits of eGovernment to citizens and business. It focuses on:

  • Ensuring all citizens benefit; i.e. going beyond the first wave of users (reaching the elderly, the less favoured, those who are often slower to benefit).
  • Ensuring that eGovernment solutions at the national level do not lead to new barriers within the Single Market. For example, if national electronic identities are not compatible, companies will find barriers to operate in another country and bid in electronic procurement tenders in other Member States. The same applies to citizens who, for example, may be unable to claim online their pension rights in another Member State where they worked.
  • Facilitating cooperation among Member States, avoiding duplication of efforts, achieving economies of scale and learning from each other’s experiences.
  • Measuring the impact for citizens and business and the progress to achieve the objectives set for 2010.

What are the concrete benefits for Europeans?

  • Saving money in public procurement. Electronic public procurement initiatives clearly demonstrate the significant savings that are possible. If eProcurement was introduced all over the EU, annual savings could amount to over €50 billion.
  • More convenient administrative procedures

- Less time spent by citizens and business in queues, filling out forms and sorting out paper work

- Economic savings for enterprises facing less administrative burden

  • As citizens become increasingly mobile throughout Europe, their need to access administrative services online from wherever they happen to be will grow. For example, a person who retires in the south of France and needs to get a birth certificate from Poland and a marriage certificate from Finland should be able to get them electronically using its mobile while sitting in the beach.
  • Electronic tools will make it easier for citizens to play a constructive role in society. In particular, they can enable young people to play an active role in democratic processes, by sharing views and building constituencies across borders.

What will be done in terms of inclusion?

  • Special attention is paid to make sure that ALL Europeans benefit. Two aspects are addressed:

- making sure that online services are easily accessible for all.

- making services available through appropriate channels (mobile, TV, public kiosks, etc.)

- providing access for disabled, aged, etc.

- offering improved or new social services where, for example a combination of those services can be offered by a civil servant in a municipality even if some of the services are national, others regional, etc.

Is there a link to activities in Member States?

  • This is part of a shared agenda with Member States who have shown a strong commitment through the Ministerial Declaration issued in Manchester in November 2005. For further information, see the press release[1] issued after the Ministerial Declaration and the Ministerial Declaration[2] where the Member States invite the Commission to join the shared efforts:

“Ministers look forward to the Communication of the European Commission on EU eGovernment policy under the framework of i2010, and to further collaboration on European initiatives in the sphere of eGovernment through the existing European programmes”.

  • These orientations are the result of a continued cooperation with eGovernment leaders and national representatives whose work has resulted in key policy orientation documents such as the “Signposts towards eGovernment 2010[3]”.

What is planned in order to involve industry?

  • Industry already issued a supportive industry declaration[4] at the Ministerial Conference.
  • The private sector is invited to contribute.

What is the contribution to the “Lisbon” strategy for growth and jobs?

  • Benefits for business are expected to be substantial. Transaction costs related to business interactions with Government directly affect profitability, which is especially important for the viability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • For example: in Ireland the savings of the Revenue Department is estimated at €6.2 million for 2004. The replacement of paper return forms by fully electronic methods for processing on-line tax returns has meant substantial savings in terms of time and resources. I addition, staff has been able to further focus on compliance and fighting fraud. Time and money has also been saved by tax payers.
  • In Denmark through the introduction of eInvoicing “The potential savings in digitalising the invoicing system was estimated to be €120 million to €150 million per year for the public sector as a whole and administrative savings for suppliers of about €50 million”.
  • In the German BundOnline 2005 initiative the investment costs of EUR 1.65 billion can be set against annual savings of EUR 400 million.





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