Legal Interoperability

logoContributing to efficient implementation of EU law

When is this action of interest to you? 

  • You are a policy officer in a public administration preparing or evaluating legislation and want to know more about how to make legislation digital-ready.
  • You work on the implementation of digital public services as an IT specialist, business architect, data specialist and you would like to provide input for future-proof policymaking. 
  • You are in charge of the conceptualization, design, delivery, running or evaluation of a public service and you would like to get rid of the legal interoperability barriers that you encounter in your work.
  • You are an expert in digital-ready policymaking and want to contribute to a growing community around the topic.
     

What is this action about?

In a world of rapidly evolving technologies, it is important to ensure that legislation takes into account potential digital impacts and fosters the take-up of digital solutions. This means that new legislative proposals have to be consistent with relevant legislation, they should consider digital impacts and be interoperable by default. A number of key principles have been identified to guide policymakers in formulating policy proposals that will be interoperable by default and therefore digital-ready and future-proof: 

  • Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to policy-making: Policy-makers should consider as early as possible in the policy cycle the views of the stakeholders involved into the implementation of the policy (e.g. service managers, business and IT architects, data specialists, etc.) to ensure that the policy is well-informed and evidence-based.
  • Reusing thus reducing administrative burden: Policy proposals should not impose additional burden on citizens, businesses and public administrations. They should reuse as much as possible existing concepts, terms, solutions and tools. 
  • Pay attention to technology-neutrality: To avoid imposing barriers on implementers, policy proposals should be technology-neutral and avoid referring to any specific technical means. 
  • Adopting a cross-border by default mindset: When formulating an EU policy or even national or local policies, policymakers should keep in mind that it will have to be implemented by stakeholders most probably across different countries, regions and cities, which means across different legal, organisational, technical and semantical frameworks.

Hence, this action is about: 

  • Providing skills, through user-friendly training and guidelines on digital-ready legislation and legal interoperability;
  • Identifying – and developing – reusable tools to foster digital-readiness through the digital screening of policy proposals and by supporting the regulatory reporting process; and
  • Building a community around Better Legislation for Smoother Implementation for practitioners and experts from European public administrations, international organisations, industries, and academia and spreading relevant news (join our newsletter!).
     

What are the objectives?

The ministers in charge of eGovernment policy across the European Union recognised the need for digital-ready legislation by calling upon the Commission in their Tallinn declaration "to fully integrate digital considerations into existing and future policy and regulatory initiatives".

Such digital-ready legislation needs to be interoperable. Hence, the general objective of this action is to foster legal interoperability within the European Commission (EC) and beyond. Legal interoperability as defined in the European Interoperability Framework (EIF). It is about ensuring that organisations operating under different legal frameworks, policies and strategies are able to work together. For this, the views of stakeholders from the different layers of interoperability (i.e. Legal, Organisational, Semantic and Technical) must be duly taken into consideration as early as possible in the policy formulation process.  
 

What are the benefits?

  • Improved legal interoperability across Europe through implementing EU legislation that considers interoperability aspects and digital impacts from its conception;
  • More efficient and less costly implementation of digital aspects of EU legislation by identifying digital requirements and analysing the related digital impacts of EU legislation upfront and by considering the reuse of existing solutions. 
  • Digital-ready legislation that better match with citizens' and businesses' needs;
  • Support to decision makers to justify investment in interoperability solutions; 
  • A policy landscape that fosters the use of technology and the use and emergence of innovative solutions by governments, companies and citizens; and
  • Overall, a more effective implementation of public policy and public services across Europe, thanks to a closer cooperation between implementers and policymakers from the beginning of the policy cycle.
     

What has been achieved?

So far the main achievements of the action are:

  • Awareness-raising within the European Commission about the importance of considering interoperability already in the legislative phase (e.g. Better Regulation guidance, presentations and training); 
  • Creation of the Better Legislation for Smoother Implementation JoinUp space gathering a community of practitioners and experts and aiming to spread knowledge, best practices and insights mainly via content sharing and events (e.g. our first virtual breakfast session);
  • Development and testing of the ‘legal interoperability screening’ methodology, which is run for both existing EU legal acts and new policy initiatives of the EC in order to ensure their coherence and smooth application; 
  • Support to policy officers in the EC to draft digital-ready policy proposals which foster interoperability (e.g. ICT impact assessment guidelines, Better Regulation Tool #27 [under revision] and related more detailed guidelines on drafting digital-ready policy proposals);
  • Recommendations on how to improve the regulatory reporting practices within the EC; 
  • Assessment of the usefulness of an interoperability cost-benefit assessment tool; and
  • Sharing of good practices on legal interoperability with some Member States.
     

What are the next steps?

In 2020 and 2021, the action will put emphasis on building community and ensuring longer-term sponsorship around the developed legal interoperability solutions and their way forward and continuous improvement. 

The Action will keep growing and engaging with its community on various topics related to formulating Better Legislation for Smoother Implementation on its Joinup space. It will keep supporting policymakers and other stakeholders in the formulation of digital-ready policy proposals, share relevant material, articles and inspiring practices on Legislation & Technology and connect experts from different fields through discussions, events, trainings, etc.