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[Check Against Delivery]
Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
eID: unlocking confidence and convenience in a Digital Single Market
Brussels, 14 October 2014
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Thank you for being here today and a particular thanks to the industry associations ACSIEL, DTCE, EUROSMART and GSMA who are sponsoring this event.
Today we stand amid a technological transformation. A world that is going digital; opportunities that are going digital.
Services that are easier, more efficient, more convenient because they are online. But one thing is clear: people won't use what they don't trust.
Any transaction you do offline, should also be possible online. With just as much security. Proving that you are who you say you are; signing a contract; using e-procurement, delivering a document, and so on.
Not only in your own country, but across the borders of 28 Member States. Today, overall, availability of eGovernment is at 72%; but across borders it's just 42%. This is a missed opportunity! Even within our single market. Today – if you're a Polish business – you can't bid online for a German government contract.
Isn't that crazy? And think of the benefits if we fixed it!
Public procurement in the EU is worth trillions of euros a year, it's one euro in five of our GDP. Cut the bill by just one percent and you would save 20 billion euros a year. It can be done: e-Government services in Europe are set to yield savings of nearly 15 billion euros by 2020.
And for businesses and citizens it means less hassle and cost. In Estonia – for example – you can set up a limited liability company in just 18 minutes using an eID.
We should not be putting any barriers in the way. On the contrary. We should do everything we can to make these online systems work more effectively and efficiently. And make the most of our digital single market. Technically a lot is possible. If we also have clear rules that add trust to technology.
That is what we have delivered through our regulation on eIdentification and Trust services.
A stable framework for secure services. A single set of rules for the whole of Europe.
Offering convenience and confidence for every online consumer, every government, every business.
A framework based on interoperability. Risk management. And sound principles: like transparency, trust, and technology neutrality.
Most of all – enabling all sorts of transactions and interactions to be possible across borders.
That is an essential ingredient to take the EU's single market – our crown jewel – and make it work in the digital era.
Already this is taking off.
It's taking off for the European Institutions themselves. In just one year – we have nearly 1000 electronic transactions on our internal market information system. Nearly 30,000 electronic signatures for the Official Journal, giving legal effect to EU laws. Under Horizon 2020, we manage funding grants only electronically. ECAS, the Commission's e-identification and authentication system, has over 1.5 million users.
And it's taking off within the Member States too: 25 EU countries already have a means of eID. 18 have time-stamping services; 21 have e-delivery.
Within Europe, we have 180 trust service providers on our list. Plus we have world-class providers of hardware, software, telecoms and trust services. And one billion advanced electronic signatures made every single day.
Today we are here to showcase some of the many applications and innovations. Not just the technology and the gadgets: but what they mean for innovation and efficiency. Enabling new businesses models and new, leaner processes.
But there are more steps on the way. We have provided the framework and that is an important first step – but just the first. It won't work unless we use it! What happens now depends on you – governments, the private sector, users and suppliers.
So I am calling on you to innovate in new technologies, and invest in new systems. Let's use the opportunities we have – to boost confidence, and boost our economy. Let's make the EU the world's safest, securest, easiest place to transact online.
We need the private sector to help us benefit from these new rules. But I also hope the EU can lead.
The fact is – in spite of the figures I just cited – many European Commission processes and procedures are still done on paper. That's costly and cumbersome – both for those trying to interact with us, citizens and businesses; and for our own internal procedures.
I want to see that end. Whether you're bidding for an EU procurement contract - or submitting your invoice for payment. It should be possible to do it completely online, without having to resort to piles of paperwork. Or indeed any! From the beginning to the end of the process. Saving money for taxpayers, adding convenience for citizens.
Today I am calling on President-elect Juncker to make that commitment. That under his mandate, every transaction with the European Commission will be possible electronically. And that he will call for other EU institutions to do the same.
That's what I'm asking for, in a letter to him today. And – do you even have to ask? – I'm going to sign it electronically.
Let's make the most of what our new rules make possible. Let's lead by example with EU institutions that are 100% digital.