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Neelie Kroes Demands 'Borderless E-Government' in the EU
Source: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2126240/neelie-kroes-demands-borderless-government-eu
Source Date: Friday, November 18, 2011
Focus: Citizens’ Service Delivery
Country: Europe
Created: Nov 21, 2011

Vice president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes has demanded that more government services be available online throughout Europe, with increased interoperability between national systems.

In a speech entitled 'Build, Connect, Grow: The road towards borderless eGovernment' made yesterday at the 6th Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Poland, Kroes complained that government services are not as easy to use as they should be.

"Dealing with government services can be trying or time-consuming. First and foremost, governments should put users in control, and in the centre," she argued.

"I want citizens to benefit from services they really want to use, services targeted to their needs, services that are smooth and seamless."

She added that national e-government systems have developed in isolation, creating new digital borders where physical ones have disappeared.

"To give an example, students have the legal right to enrol at any university across the EU. But often they cannot do so online, because national electronic ID systems are not recognised abroad.

"Even though paper ID would be. Isn't that crazy?"

Kroes explained that the system is no more helpful to businesses looking to operate across international borders.

"They must respond to calls for tender launched miles away in other languages, and very few of them bother.

"They must reclaim VAT from foreign administrations, using procedures which are unfamiliar, lengthy or cumbersome.

"None of this makes sense in the digital age. We are imposing extra barriers on businesses who want to expand within the single market."

She explained that the EC has proposed setting up a body to facilitate this sort of cross-border communication.

"The Commission has proposed the Connecting Europe Facility to ensure sustainable financing: we are putting €9bn on the table, including sizeable funds to establish and start running pan-European digital public services."

The EC has also begun development on several pan-European services, such as e-procurement, eID, business mobility, and electronic patient records.

Kroes emphasised the benefits that this could bring to businesses within the EU, and its economy.

"It could bring down costly administrative barriers – so that entrepreneurs can look far beyond borders, into new markets.

"It could create new areas of demand and new opportunities for innovation – benefiting IT suppliers."

She also explained that governments could benefit too.

"It offers efficiencies for governments, who can absorb non-nationals into their systems with less cost and less complexity.

"The large-scale pilots show we can achieve this by connecting the different e-government services member states have already developed.

"We can build on existing achievements and bring the benefits of e-government to a European scale."

Kroes concluded by asking the government members present which of their services they would feel able to put online first.

"So we need to know, what are you willing to commit to, politically and financially? And which cross-border services would you like to see online by 2015?"
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