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Speech by Commissioner Viviane Reding

 

1. High level seminar, MUMOK Museum

Vienna, 10 February 2006

 

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, Ministers,

Introduction

I am pleased to be in Vienna, in one of the historical centres of Europe. A century ago Vienna, as it is also today, was the heart of Europe and an early model of unity in diversity, towards a Europe for all Europeans.

It is very appropriate then that today’s conference is called “eGovernment for all Europeans”. For this to become a reality indeed I have three key recommendations:

First, the citizens of Europe have to be foremost in our mind. Only citizen-centric eGovernment will be accepted.

Second, we should cooperate and share results. This allows us to achieve the most within tight budgets, accelerates the delivery of interoperable solutions, and ensures that eGovernment becomes a widespread reality, leaving no one behind.

And third, we should pay full attention to trust and openness. This is essential for electronic identification in public services to be accepted, which we need for more sophisticated and meaningful forms of eGovernment.

These themes are all on today’s agenda. eGovernment is entering a new phase, moving beyond online information to fully transactional, citizen-centric and personalised services. They will deliver the high value that citizens are expecting. As you will discuss this morning, electronic identification and authenticated electronic documents are the sine qua non for such meaningful, easy to use, and trustworthy online public services.

At the same moment in time we now have the opportunity to move eGovernment beyond individual success stories to widespread benefits for all participants in society and economy. The Manchester Ministerial Conference last year has clearly shown the potential. This afternoon you will discuss cooperation and sharing resources in eGovernment to make this potential a reality.

The themes of this conference are at the heart of enabling public administration to modernise and innovate themselves with eGovernment and thereby to fully contribute to growth and employment in the Lisbon Agenda. 

Challenges for the next steps

First, eGovernment success stories have something in common: they put the citizen or business at the centre.

It is citizen- and business-centred eGovernment that delivers the real benefits.

The eGovernment Award Finalists at Manchester last year illustrated this very well: in Denmark electronic invoicing saves €150 million for the public administration and

€50 million for businesses. Disabled people now get immediate benefits in Belgium where previously this took 3-4 weeks and a lot of paper work.

Success in eGovernment is something we build from below. Governance mandates are worth nothing without bottom-up support. 

Second, we have to build on our experiences through exchange and promotion of good practices coming from all over Europe.

One of the means is the Good Practice Framework supported by the European Commission. It offers online access to successful cases and workshops, with the aim to stimulate sharing and learning from all over Europe. So far, we have 140 case-studies and over 600 experts signed up. I am sure many in this room will find this opportunity for sharing and cooperation exciting.

Sharing and cooperation is essential. That is why the idea of the Austrian Presidency – to set up an eGovernment Resources Network – is something we now must look at closely.

Third, experience shows that eGovernment has reached a critical juncture. The step from information-only online services to fully personalised and transactions can only be made if certain key enablers are in place.

Electronic identification and authentication in public services is such a key enabler. The benefits can be huge. Let me give an example: going fully electronic in public procurement and invoicing with secure identification could save much as €100 billion.

The Manchester Ministerial Declaration set the important target that by 2010 European citizens and businesses shall be able to benefit from secure and convenient electronic identifications for access to public services in their own or in any other Member State.

This means interoperable electronic identification and authentication by 2010 within a framework of national diversity.

Electronic IDs will facilitate contracts in public procurement, certification for study registration, medical services.

Electronic identification has to be complemented by electronic document authentication and electronic archiving.  This is a further objective of the Ministerial Declaration: by 2010 Member States will have agreed a framework for authenticated electronic documents across the EU.

Today’s incompatibility of public sector electronic identification and authentication systems is a barrier to using public services across borders – either for accessing a public service in another country such as in public e procurement, court filings or electronic health prescriptions, or for access to pan-European services from all over Europe such as employment portals.

What the Commission can do and what is needed from other actors

Governments at all levels and industries will have to co-operate to provide solutions so that the citizens and businesses can have secure access to better public services anywhere in Europe.

Electronic identity is generating considerable interest. So let’s do this and do it right with the aim of seamless information exchange for all who work in government or interact with the 450 million citizens and 20 million companies in Europe.

For its part the European Commission will promote research and innovation in eGovernment, on user centred design and user satisfaction, exchange of good practice, and support to deployment in large-scale pilots to electronic identification and electronic public procurement.

I will also present an eGovernment 2010 Action Plan this Spring. The Ministerial Declaration has been a strong inspiration. Our Action Plan will look at the further challenges: ensuring inclusion, making efficiency and effectiveness a reality, strengthening participation in democratic decision-making, delivering high impact applications, and putting key enablers in place.

But in reality, as you know, most of the actions will have to be carried out with support from other stakeholders. No group is strong enough to do this on its own.

I intend to continue the fruitful work in the eGovernment subgroup of Member State representatives, where topics that matter to you are discussed and where we identify the road to take and the steps along that road.

I encourage all of you to actively engage in this work as we plan the routes for electronic identification, electronic public procurement, and inclusive eGovernment.

These roadmaps will be important, not just to define the steps we need to take but even more importantly as a way to bring stakeholders to the table, to pool scarce resources, to share experiences and to create commitment. They are a “contract to deliver”.

To industry I say the following. I appreciate the effort behind the industry declaration on eGovernment in Manchester last year. Now we must follow through to deliver efficient, open and flexible solutions for 21st Century Government. 

I hope you also are prepared for a change. Governments are challenging customers who know what they want.

3. Conclusion

I brought you three key messages today.

First, success in eGovernment is something we build from below putting citizens at the centre. Citizens, businesses, administrations, and academics must design the future together.

Second, eGovernment has already delivered results we can use. It is delivering growth and employment. Now we must cooperate and share to spread excellence across Europe so it can benefit all.

And third, trust and openness is at the heart of the eGovernment agenda. We must make a significant step forward on this topic in 2006.

This high level seminar is an excellent opportunity to confirm your commitment and engage in partnerships. I call upon you to do so.

I thank you for your attention.

 

 

 

Datum: 14.02.2006