23 Feb 2016   |   News

EU launches push to make e-government mobile

Digital single market chief wants member states to shape online public services for smartphone delivery

The Commissioner for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip is to launch an EU-wide push for e-government services to be delivered to smartphones, telling the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona this week, “There is a lot more that EU countries could do to embrace the challenge of e-government and meet the needs of a growing mobile user base.”

Currently, only one in four public websites in the EU is mobile-friendly, Ansip said. His aim is to reach a point where all interactions with public administrations in the EU – and between public bodies – are done electronically.

Ansip hails from Estonia, an exemplar of e-government. “I know from first-hand experience that it works, and how it can benefit the way that people, business and government interact with each other.”

He was prime minister when the country introduced a pioneering network called X-road, which allows people to file taxes within five minutes using pre-filled forms, manage their banking, easily register businesses, apply for child benefits, pay for parking tickets, vote, or receive a medical prescription, all in a matter of minutes, from a single integrated website.

In 2011, over 98 per cent of Estonian companies were registered online and thanks to bilateral agreements, Portuguese, Finnish, Belgian and Lithuanian citizens can register new businesses without having to set foot in the tiny Baltic state.

Citizens in other European countries have not been half as eager to sign on the digital dotted line.

Consumers, companies and governments around the world are sharing information among each other, but the number of people in Europe who transact with the state online is still low. This is despite a 2014 EU law intended to provide a more reliable legal environment for electronic identification services.

A lack of a common legal basis for cross-border recognition means electronic IDs are still not interoperable across national boundaries. “I would like to see faster uptake of digital identities, signatures and trust services,” the Commissioner said.

Ansip’s role in the Commission is to promote reforms of digital services, overhaul Europe’s telecoms market, and boost ecommerce, making all goods and services equally available across the continent.

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