The e-Government Action Plan includes 20 initiatives to be launched in 2016 and 2017. Several of them aim to accelerate the implementation of existing legislation and related take-up of online public services. The Commission will notably support the transition of Member States towards full e-procurement, use of contract registers and interoperable e-signatures.
Another part of this set of initiatives focuses on cross-border digital public services. For example, the Commission will submit a proposal to create a Single Digital Gateway as a one-stop entry point for business and people to all Digital Single Market related information, assistance, advice and problem-solving services and making sure that the most frequently used procedures for doing business across borders can be completed fully online. The ESSI (Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information) will help national administrations to electronically share personal social information between Member States, thereby making it easier for people to live and work across borders. Finally, the action plan aims to ensure that high-quality digital public services are designed for users and encourage their participation. The plan will be regularly reviewed and if needed completed. An online platform for users will ensure that ideas and feedback are collected.
The “once-only” principle means that citizens and businesses should supply the same information only once to a public administration. Public administration internally shares this data, so that no additional burden falls on citizens and businesses. It calls for a reorganisation of public sector internal processes, rather than forcing businesses and citizens to fit around these processes. The Commission will launch a pilot project with Member States to apply once-only principle across borders, with €8 million funding from Horizon 2020. This pilot will test out a technical once-only solution for businesses working in different EU Member States. Another activity will explore the once-only concept for citizens, and support networking and discussions on how this could be implemented, in due respect of the legal framework on personal data protection and privacy.
A number of EU company rules were conceived in a pre-digital era, when every form had to be completed on paper. As a result, many companies cannot fully benefit from digital tools where it comes to fulfilling company law requirements or interacting with business registers because many of the rules and processes are still paper-based. The Commission will work on ways to achieve simpler and less burdensome solutions for companies, by facilitating the use of digital solutions throughout a company’s lifecycle in the interaction between companies and business registers, including in cross-border situations.
The Single Digital Gateway will link up (not replace) relevant EU and national websites, portals, assistance services and procedures in a seamless and user-friendly way. Over time it will offer users a streamlined, comprehensive portal to find information, initiate and complete transactions with Member States’ administrations across the EU. The most frequently used administrative procedures will be identified and be brought fully online, so that no offline steps like printing and sending documents on paper will be needed. This will save time and thereby costs for businesses and citizens when they want to engage in cross-border activities like setting up a business, exporting, moving or studying in another EU Member State.
Interconnecting business registers will also ensure that business registers can communicate to each other electronically in a safe and secure way and that information is up-to-date without any additional red tape for companies.