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Digital by Default – The EU’s fully electronic public sector

Digital by Default – The EU’s fully electronic public sector

The European Commission has been hard at work pushing out policies and directives to address the few remaining issues in its move toward a truly unified and digital Single Market.

A key constituent of that market is the public sector which directly contributes over €3.5 trillion to the economy, in addition to its social and regulatory impact. It should come as no surprise then that the operational harmonization of the various public sector agencies and organizations spread across the various member states is considered instrumental in achieving the goals of the Single Market.

This harmonization of the public sector is based on a few key principles and digital enablers. Here is a brief overview of some of the major ones.

eInvoicing is not something that is entirely new to businesses in the EU. Companies have already been using it to greatly improve their working capital cycles while also saving on the costs associated with manually handling non-electronic invoices. However, the challenge with the current system is the inconsistency caused by a wide diversity in formats as well as national rules related to eInvoicing. The European Committee for Standardization intends to eliminate these obstacles and accelerate the billing procedure for consumers, enterprises, and public sector service providers.



eDelivery is another essential component of the European Union’s digital strategy. It uses a distributed network of nodes to facilitate secure and fast communication between public administrators, businesses, and citizens. eDelivery provides the technical specifications that will enable seamless, cross-border, and inter-agency sharing of data and information in public domain such as law enforcement, consumer protection, procurement, etc.



eProcurement is more than just having an online portal for public sector procurement tenders. The goal is to make the entire procedure simpler, quicker, more transparent, and more cost-effective. Public sector purchasing bodies are to move to a fully electronic means for posting and awarding tenders, and electronic submission of tenders will also become mandatory by 2018. This would further enhance cross-border and inter-organizational interoperability.



New Call-to-actioneIDAS provides identification, authentication and trust services for all sorts of transactions performed on the digital landscape. Although electronic identification has been in use before, eIDAS provides a system that is harmonized for use across all the member states of the EU while ensuring the highest security standards. It is a significant enabler for most other policy initiatives as it provides the basis for the critical transaction-level security for these applications. 


European Interoperability Framework

The European Interoperability Framework lays the groundwork for interoperability between organizations and entities offering public series across the EU. It makes full use of other guidelines like eIDAS or the Public Sector Information Directive to ensure the seamless delivery of public services to all EU citizens.


Towards a Better Public Service Delivery System

These policies (and others) together form the core foundation on which a more efficient, transparent, and secure public service delivery system will stand. Rather of re-inventing the wheel, these guidelines take current best practices and harmonize them to the maximum extent possible to ensure interoperability across borders. The policymakers believe that the public sector can perhaps lead the way in demonstrating the strength and robustness of the underlying core principles of the Single Market.



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References and Further Reading

Image: odd one out, courtesy of randonfox, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)