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Digital Agenda: more EU citizens benefitting from online public services
More people across the EU now have access to public services online, according to Europe's 9th e-Government Benchmark Report released this week.
The average availability of online public services in the EU went up from 69% to 82% from 2009 to 2010. Putting more Government services online helps cut costs for public administrations and also reduces red tape for businesses and citizens.
The report reveals the best and worst performers in the EU, focusing on two essential public services: 'finding a job' and 'starting a company'.
Although Europe's national public administrations are moving in the right direction, there is still disparity between countries. There is also room for improvement in take up of eProcurement.
As part of the Digital Agenda for Europe, the European Union aims for one out of two citizens and four out of five businesses to be using eGovernment services by 2015 (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).
The Report's findings give useful feedback on the objectives of the eGovernment Action Plan launched by the Commission in December 2010 to work with Member States' public authorities to expand and improve the services which they offer via the Internet (see IP/10/1718 and MEMO/10/681).
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda said: "I am pleased that increasing numbers of EU citizens can now use online public services for major things like looking for a job, filing tax declarations or registering new companies. Member States who make basic public services fully available online can make life easier for their citizens and businesses, while reducing their own costs."
Over 80% of basic public services available online
The online availability of a basket of 20 basic public services, such as car registration, tax declaration or registration of a new company, across Europe reached 82% in 2010, substantially higher than in 2009 when it stood at 69%.
The best performers are Austria, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Sweden where the entire list of those basic services is fully online. Bulgaria, Italy and Latvia showed a big improvement during the last year in making services available online. The report shows that services for businesses are more advanced than those for citizens.
Quality of services
This year's report focuses on the needs of both unemployed citizens and would-be entrepreneurs. It looks at the way public administrations cut red tape and make the entire range of public services needed to start up a company or to get back to work available in a streamlined way.
This can take place through an online portal or automatically, for instance when registering for a tax identification number a business start-up will also automatically receive a VAT number as well.
The report finds that 55% of services required to start up a company are provided either through a dedicated portal or automatically in Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Sweden and the UK. But only 46% of useful services for the unemployed are currently delivered through a dedicated portal.
Although 70% of public authorities have started working with eProcurement, its overall low take-up (best estimates place it at 5% of total procurement) does not yet allow for major benefits. If eProcurement were fully available, and more widely used, it could produce cost savings on public purchases as high as 30%.
Smaller municipalities, fewer online services
For the first time the report also looks at the regional and local dimension of eGovernment and highlights substantial disparities within countries.
For services provided mainly at the local level, smaller municipalities display only half as much online availability as their larger counterparts. For instance, while the websites of smaller towns or cities may give information on how to request a copy of a birth certificate, large cities’ websites also include downloadable forms.
The reason for this could be that smaller local administrations and their citizens prefer face-to-face contact or other more traditional channels, or that small administrations display a weaker capacity (strategy, funding, capability) to embrace online services.
The European Commission will continue to monitor the development of online public services across Europe and, through the eGovernment Action Plan, will work with Member States' public authorities to expand and improve the services they offer via the internet.
The Commission's Benchmark report on the progress of eGovernment across the EU has been running since 2001. The objective of the survey is to benchmark the different European countries to compare progress and share best practices.
The analysis covers more than 10 000 websites within the 27 Member States of the EU, plus Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
The benchmark analyses 12 basic online services for citizens: Income Taxes, Job Search, Social Security Benefits, Personal Documents, Car Registration, Application for Building Permission, Declaration to the Police, Public Libraries, Birth and Marriage Certificates, Enrolment in Higher Education, Announcement of Moving, Health-related Service and 8 online public services for businesses: Social Contribution for Employees, Corporate Tax, VAT, Registration of a New Company, Submission of Data to the Statistical Office, Custom Declaration, Environment-related Permits, Public Procurement.
For more information:
Ninth eGovernment Benchmarking Report
Neelie Kroes' website:
Digital Agenda website:
Annex: main results from the eGovernment Benchmarking