The Commission today adopted a proposal for a new programme that will help Member States to modernise their administrations and provide interoperable digital services at national and European level. The new programme, ISA2,will build on the success of its predecessor, ISA (Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations), by ensuring seamless electronic cross-border or cross-sector interaction between European public administrations.
This is essential, because in today's Europe, more and more citizens work and relocate, and businesses trade and operate, across the Union. When they do this, they frequently have to interact electronically with Member State administrations.
Unfortunately, problems such as organisational complexity, outdated and cumbersome procedures, and lack of cooperation very often create electronic barriers which prevent citizens and businesses from using public services efficiently and impede the smooth functioning of the internal market.
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: "Under pressure from the recent economic crisis, Member States are already reducing administrative burdens and costs, introducing digital services and improving business processes. However, because this often takes place at department level and lacks cross-sector and European-level interoperability, these changes very often throw up e-barriers. This can cause frustration for businesses and citizens, wasting their time and money.
"Years of work on interoperability, eGovernment and open data mean interoperable platforms now have the potential to unleash unprecedented speed, efficiency and quality in the delivery of public services. ISA2 is the key that will unlock that potential. It is central to the Digital Agenda for Europe."
A report published last month (EC eGovernment Report 2014) shows that Member State governments still have a long way to go in giving businesses and citizens trouble-free access to online public services even within the Member State. In addition, availability of cross-border public services to nationals of a different EU country stands at just 42% - 30 percentage points behind the availability of public services for country nationals.
At European level, many Union policy areas depend on interoperability for their successful implementation, such as the internal market, environment, home affairs and justice, customs and taxation, health, electronic identity and public procurement. All will benefit from ISA2.
Interoperability programmes have come a long way since they were first introduced in 1995. ISA2 is based on the collective experience and results of two decades of Commission programmes, supporting first the establishment of electronic connections among public administrations, then the availability of information on the internet, then the electronic collaboration of public services and now the implementation of transactional services across Europe.
ISA2 will cover the period 2016-2020 with a financial envelope of €131 million. It replaces the current ISA programme which comes to an end in December 2015 and which resulted in a number of high-value initiatives, including e-Prior (an IT system for electronic invoicing and the exchange of public procurement documents), the Internal Market Information System, IMI (allowing national authorities to exchange information), MT@EC (a machine translation service in all official languages for the EU institutions and Member States), and a system allowing online collection of statements of support for European citizens’ initiatives.