This week, the European Commission published its eGovernment benchmark report, which shows that over the last two years digital delivery of public services has improved across Europe.
Overall, performance now stands at 68% compared to 62% two years ago. The EU27+ group is made up of all 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Montenegro, the Republic of Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom, as well as Albania and North Macedonia.
The benchmark report is linked to two other European policy priorities: the eGovernment Action Plan and the Tallinn Declaration. Together they mark a new commitment at EU level to accelerate the digital transformation of eGovernment by ensuring high quality digital services with a user-centric approach for citizens, in addition to seamless, cross-border public services for businesses.
The assessment criteria for the eGovernment evaluation include the transparency of online public services, mobile friendliness and cross-border mobility.
Welcoming the progress to date, Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, commented: “From filing taxes to opening bank accounts or applying for education abroad, 78% of public services can now be completed online, which makes our lives easier. This needs to go together with an electronic identity that works everywhere in Europe, while protecting user’s data.”
Malta leads the uptake of digital services
According to the report, the Europe’s frontrunners in eGovernment are Malta with an overall score of 97%, Estonia (92%), Austria (87%) and Latvia (87%). All four topped topped the key benchmark listings. They were followed closely by Denmark (84%), Lithuania (83%) and Finland (83%).
Luxembourg, Hungary and Slovenia made the most progress in the two year reporting period, gaining 20, 19 and 18 percentage points respectively, to end up with overall scores of 79%, 63% and 72%.
Transparency, delivery and the processing of online public services improved in terms of information clarity and ease of access. Overall, public services improved from 59% to 66% over the last two years.
Mobile friendliness also improved -– up from 62 to 76%. More than three-in-four online services are now designed for use on a mobile device. However, cybersecurity remains a major challenge. Only 20% of all government websites URLs meet basic security criteria. The take-up of e-identity is also lagging behind expectations. Citizens are able to use their national eID for just 9% of the services from other countries.
Commission consults public about electronic ID
The Commission is surveying citizens and stakeholders in a public consultation that ends on 2 October. The aim is to collect feedback on drivers and barriers to the development and uptake of eID and trust services in Europe as well as on the impact of options for delivering an EU digital identity. The EU executive is expected to make a proposal for a secure European e-identity soon afterwards.
Additionally, e-Government has a key role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Governments in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region are using tools like ICTs, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve public services, empower citizens with the ultimate aim of providing a better quality of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has served to highlight the importance of digital services, at a time when physical contacts must be reduced.
“This crisis has shown how much citizens rely on online public services. While more and more governments are following these trends, we must take it further and work towards a secure European e-identity,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, has declared.