Last Friday I was a panelist at Tecnimap 2010, a Spanish government-focused conference that takes place every two years and was organized in beautiful Zaragoza this time.
The session was about the Malmo Ministerial Declaration that was signed last November by ministers in EU member states to agree about a number of common objectives (see previous post). The declaration addresses both the objective of empowering citizens and business by creating more user-driven services and increasing transparency, and the more traditional objective of improving efficiency and effectiveness of services, with particular reference to cross-border ones. The former is way more innovative and in line with recent trends on government 2.0 in other regions (such as North America and Australia).
The session covered some of the projects that the European Commission is funding to establish or integrate basic components of a European e-Government interoperability scheme:
- PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement On Line), dealing with common eProcurement solutions,
- STORK dealing with cross-recognition of electronic identities; and
- SPOCS (Simple Procedures Online for Cross-border Services), focused on solutions that support the European Services Directive (which facilitates the establishment of businesses across EU borders).
In addition, some panelists mentioned the important role of the European Interoperability Framework, which is meant to support the interoperability of government data, applications and processes across EU borders.
Whereas all these projects seem to be doing the right things, I wonder whether they are what is really needed to meet not only citizens’ but also member states’ priorities:
- PEPPOL focuses on cross-border procurement, but I doubt that’s a priority while every economy struggles and public money is expected to have demonstrable local benefits. Also, it does not look into how to innovate the cumbersome procurement process and make it more transparent, an area where other regions are exploring the benefits of social media (more here).
- SPOCS seems to ignore that entrepreneurs in Europe may want to build their own version of a point of single contact, leveraging collective intelligence about the challenges and opportunities of cross-border operations rather than relying on official government information (more here).
- STORK pursues cross recognition of electronic identities assuming that they will have a wide uptake outside their primary application area (i.e. public safety), which is unlikely (more here).
I will expand each of these point in separate blog posts, but my general assessment is that, while these projects are important to both implement European policies and enhance collaboration between member states, they need to be put into a broader context in order to contribute to the first and most innovative objective of the ministerial declaration
How much effort should be put and maintained on these projects is not up to me to judge, but I would welcome a reflection by some or most of the EU member states about how these resources can be more effectively utilized to really address empowerment and user-driven services..
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