European Commission aims to enhance cross-border cooperation in public services

By on 04/12/2022 | Updated on 04/12/2022
The European Commission headquarters

The European Commission has approved plans to strengthen cross-border interoperability and public sector cooperation between EU member states through shared data and approaches to transformation.

The Interoperable Europe Act, funded primarily through the Digital Europe Programme, aims to quicken the pace of digital transformation across EU members’ public sectors. One of its core goals is to forge a network of digital public administrations that are expected to exchange data and strike common ground on shared digital solutions, including open-source software and IT tools, as well as guidelines, checklists, frameworks.

The commission said that interoperability is “essential for building the digital single market” and would help EU member states achieve better public services, based on a common set of standards and protocols. It added that interoperability “positively affects public values [including] trust from citizens in their governments”.

“The fight against COVID-19 serves as a great example of effective interoperability. Thanks to interoperability, the creation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate facilitated cross-border travel in the EU during the pandemic,” it said.

It hopes the legislation will aid Europe’s digital targets agenda – announced in March 2021 – to reach digital transformation by 2030.

Read more: EU presents plan for bloc-wide digital identity scheme

“Improving public sector interoperability is fundamental for building a digital European Union, one that is open, inclusive, fair and trusted,” said Johannes Hahn, commissioner for budget and administration.

He added that interoperability touched on a “core European idea of together finding better solutions for the digital age”, allowing public administrations to “better cooperate, to understand and trust each other, for the benefit of people, businesses, and our communities”.

The commission estimated the potential cost savings of the project at between €5.5m (US$5.6m) and €6.3m (US$6.5m) for citizens and between €5.7bn (US$5.8bn) and €19.2bn (US$19.6bn) for private sector partners of public administrations.

Better connected

The proposal includes evaluations of public administrations’ IT systems in relation to interoperability, and the use of open-source solutions.

The latter would be powered by an Interoperable Europe Portal, described by the Commission as a “one-stop-shop for solutions and community cooperation”. The Act also includes support for policy experimentation and training.

The Interoperable Europe Board, which comprises representatives from EU member states, the Commission, the European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, is to take charge of the interoperability cooperation framework going forward.

The board will be tasked with reaching a consensus on “common reusable resources, support and innovation measures” and updating the European Interoperability Framework (EIF).

Supporting the board is the Interoperable Europe Community, which draws on the skills of interested practitioners and experts across govtech firms, the open-source community, and regions and cities across the EU.

Read more: Europe’s strategy for responsible use of AI and data could also boost digital transformation in government

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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