Lessons from COVID19: Focus on dependencies to foster interoperability?

Published on: 15/05/2020

The current COVID19 crisis is teaching us many lessons in many different fields. The growing collection Digital Response to COVID-19 shows the importance of digital solutions for the ongoing crisis.  We – the Legal Interoperability Team – were discussing possible takeaways for “better legislation for smoother implementation”. In the coming weeks we want to discuss several of our ideas with you.

COVID-19 is showing us right now, that a “Health issue” can bring down an “economic system” and at the same time be the best “green deal” the world has seen so far. It speeds up the implementation of “IT strategies” in many administrations and education systems. It shifts public opinion on “data privacy” and it has very mixed impacts on “international relations”. Dependencies of policies were always there but never so tangible. Can we learn something from this very strong experience?

How can we use interoperability to increase resilience in our systems? What methodologies can we use to help us getting out of our policy silos?

The Legal Interoperability Team is advocating since 2016 to do an “Interoperability Assessment” not only before developing a new IT solution but already in the early stage of law-making. With the current revision of the European Commission’s better regulation agenda we are also reworking our assessment tool. One part of the new assessment should be reflecting the dependencies. But what is the best way to do it?

Law-drafters in the European Commission as in many countries are assessing the economic, social and environmental impacts but in most of the impact assessment templates, we saw so far, the interconnection of the aspects is not directly addressed. In these assessments, law-drafters are asked to show that the legal proposal has positive or in any case only very little negative impacts on the assessed policy fields. Is this enough to build the necessary links between policies? 

While drafting new legislative proposals, policy departments have a tendency to try not to interfere with other departments competences. This helps to simplify the legislative process but it prevents building the needed policy links, which, at least in times of crisis, become crucial. What can be the answer? What is your answer?

The information and views set out in this texts are those of the Legal Interoperability Team and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission.