The European Commission has urged governments across Europe to harmonise online administration systems into a single ICT framework to make it easier for businesses to work across the region. Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, said that the European Union has provided the ability to travel, trade and work across the region, but that more needs to be done to streamline these systems.
“There are obstacles for businesses looking to operate cross-border,” she said. “None of this makes sense in the digital age. We are imposing extra barriers on businesses who want to expand within the single market. To date, e-government, which should be part of the solution, has been part of the problem.”
“National e-government systems have developed in isolation, creating new digital borders where physical ones have long since disappeared.” Kroes said that these e-government systems are fragmenting the EU rather than unifying it.
She gave the example of students having the legal right to enroll at any university across the EU yet not being able to do it online because national electronic ID systems are not recognised abroad—even though paper ID systems are. Kroes added that a lack of joined-up systems hinders citizens and businesses, and costs public authorities money.
“Remember that electronic procurement can bring significant savings for governments. Online forms can be processed at a fraction of the cost,” she said.