Mariya Gabriel discusses how to ensure that online public services are fit for purpose for EU citizens.
The question of how we can ensure public e-services are fit-for-purpose is of vital importance for our citizens. Our society is undergoing a fundamental transition, from the old ‘analogue’ world to a digital future. This deep change offers unprecedented opportunities for businesses, citizens, as well as society at large. An effective public sector that fully embraces the digital revolution is instrumental for benefiting from these opportunities.
Over the last years, the EU and its Member States have already made a lot of progress in making public administrations more inclusive, competitive, and citizen-centric, through the implementation of the eGovernment Action Plan.
In this regard, the clearest example is the once-only principle. You might have already asked yourself, how come that the public administration of my country seems to treat me as its external archive? Why do I have to store and reproduce the same documents over and over again, for example birth certificates, diplomas or business permits? Well, simply because this is easier and convenient for the administration. The once-only principle aims to put an end to this arcane practice.
The Digital Single Gateway to electronic procedures has introduced the once-only principle into European legislation. From 2020, birth certificates, diplomas, business certificates, or permits, issued by one administration, will not need to be provided again, neither to the same, nor to any other administration. They will be shared digitally among the relevant public bodies, across the EU, and of course, only if citizens have given their consent!
EGovernment in the EU is moving in the right direction. We have accomplished a lot already. Today, 58% of EU citizens choose to get in touch with their public administration online, and the overall online availability of public services is at 82 %. Yet, the digital transformation of government requires constant efforts. We need to join forces to make it succeed. We are already thinking about the years after 2020 until 2030.
Here are some questions we ask ourselves: How can governments cope with rapid changes, and with the emergence of new social inequalities, migration, an ageing population, new life styles, as well as the ever-faster cycle of technological innovation?
Let me share with you some preliminary thoughts about our future actions. First, let me assure you: The European Commission will continue to work very closely with Member States, in particular at local and regional level. The Commission remains fully committed to ensure the implementation of the eGovernment Action Plan and its citizen-centric principles.
The once-only principle must spread out to the entire public sector and even beyond. Our aim is to achieve ‘one-click administrations’ all over the EU.
In short, we need to put in practice what we preach:
• To further improve the digital accessibility of EU public services for all citizens and businesses, and
• To put citizens at the centre of EU policy and decision-making
On the international scene, we will continue to promote good practices, eGovernance models and tools, as we want to foster democratic values and human rights in neighbouring and developing countries.
Putting citizens first should not be words only.
The Commission and Member States stand side by side, the Tallinn Declaration last year has once again demonstrated the convergence of views about the objectives and the direction to take.
Our budget proposals for the years 2021 to 2027 include significant support for the Member States’ efforts to design, implement and deliver citizen-centric public services.
I am convinced that together we can accelerate the digital transformation of public administrations and turn into a real success.