After the EU’s enlargement, the new Member States will join the eEurope 2005 Action Plan and will play an active role in realising its ambitious goals, says European Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society Erkki Liikanen.
How will enlargement affect the EU’s information society-related goals?
The priority for this year and for 2004 is for the accession countries to implement the new electronic communications legal framework that will enter into force in the EU this summer. We will closely follow this process and give practical assistance where needed.
The accession countries will also become part of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan and will take full part in the realisation of the ambitious goals set forth therein.
How will the EU close the “digital divide” between the existing and the acceding Member States under the eEurope 2005 Action Plan?
In some cases the accession countries will have an advantage in that they can take up the most advanced technology without having to go through the motions that the existing EU Member States had to do and can thus ‘leapfrog’ to the most performing level.
An integral part of the eEurope 2005 Action Pan is the exchange of good practices to facilitate fast learning, and I believe that the accession countries will especially benefit from that. They will be able to learn from what has worked in the existing Member States and apply that to their own specific situation. In that respect, they will of course also be able to learn from our mistakes.
Public administration reform is recognised as a key to efficient e-government solutions. What are the plans for EU-wide reform in this area in a Union of 25?
Public administration reform is needed in order to have an open and transparent public sector, that delivers inclusive public services and which is productive and efficient.
Good practice exchange is one important element to achieve this. Another is ensuring interoperability of pan-European public services, for which a framework will be published by the Commission the end of 2003.
Finally, also the upgrading of public administrations to broadband is imperative. Our target is that all relevant public administrations should be on broadband by 2005.
How is the progress of the development of Information Society monitored and evaluated across Europe?
Benchmarking is an important aspect of eEurope and will be continued with a revised and simplified set of indicators, as proposed by the Commission at the end of last year.
What are your priorities in creating feasible public-private partnership models to facilitate the spread of e-government services in Europe?
Such partnerships are much talked about and can be important, for example in the roll-out of more advanced infrastructure such as broadband that will facilitate the delivery of attractive content, including from the public sector.
As part of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan and as follow-up to the Commission organised Broadband Day held in January, the Commisison will organise workshops that will also address such partnership models as practised at national, regional or local level and explore issues related to financing, competition, division of roles, etc.
What needs to be changed in process, people or institutions to facilitate the successful completion of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan?
In the eEurope 2005 Action Plan, we pursue a coherent implementation of stimulating content, services and applications and removing barriers to the deployment of new infrastructure for participating to the information society (which includes broadband delivered on PC, digital TV, mobile terminals, etc). Elements such as promotion, best practice exchange, legal framework should reinforce each other.
Awareness of the key role of ICT for productivity and inclusion is also important. Decision-makers at all levels need to see and be shown that the information society can contribute to realising their own targets, whether they are increasing competitiveness, entrepreneurship, enlargement, education, cultural identity, or social cohesion and justice.