SPEECH [45 Kb]
The political challenge of simplifying and opening up eGovernment. Viviane Reding Speech
International conference "Advancing eGovernment", Berlin, 1 March 2007


Putting services on-line has become standard practice for public and private services; but what really matters is getting GOOD QUALITY SERVICE! Citizens now have the experience of commercial service providers and they expect the same high quality and easy of use from the public sector!

For example, a recent Danish study found that people expect eGovernment to offer improved efficiency, greater trust, transparency and accountability. And, government services should be robust, comprehensive, user-friendly and inclusive. Unlike commercial services, they have to target all citizens including economically less favoured groups and the weaker sectors of the population.

But simplification means solving the interoperability puzzle, which apart from anything else calls for better cooperation between government departments: locally, regionally and nationally as well as at the EU level.

Look at simplification from the economic view point, the prosperity of Europe's 20 million firms is being held back by heavy administrative requirements, in which information is often duplicated across administrative departments. The administrative burden can be as high as 7% of GDP in Greece, Hungary and the Baltic States, but could be reduced down to the 1.5% recorded in the UK and Sweden. High burdens are not just inefficient for firms, but also bloat the size of the public service and leads to errors and delays. But, think what could be done if we released more than 5% of GDP for productive purposes – that is more than two years of growth if we benchmark against the performance of the EU as a whole!

The new Commission Action Plan for "Reducing Administrative Burdens in the European Union"1 sets a target to reduce such burdens by 25% by 2012 through EU and Member States working together. What is important for us today is to see how these inefficiencies in administrative procedures can be tackled through e-Government. For example, "once-only" data provision could be a right for citizens and businesses. Some countries are experimenting with this idea: it could be a very powerful principle that we should all take seriously.