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eGovernment in EU: better but some barriers remain

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Although citizen participation is at the centre of Open Government Strategy in the EU, only one in four public services in Europe are mobile-friendly, according to the 12th eGovernment benchmark report, which was published last week and presented at an eGovernment workshop in Brussels on July 1.

There is a correlation between “mobile-ready” public services and the number of users, but there are few pro-active approaches. “Public services are becoming more mobile-friendly as the number of mobile users increase”, Gianluca Papa, DG Connect, Knowledge Base Unit, said at the eGovernment workshop.

The report also said that while more services are available online (including services for students, +9%), user experience and the use of online services remain insufficient. Only 47% of citizens use the Web to interact with public authorities and only 26% fill in online forms – the most common way to exchange information on the Web.

The most striking is the lack of transparency on process participation. Only 35% of public online services inform visitors about their ability to participate in policy-making processes. This lack of transparency (about response time, for example) forces users to terminate the procedure, and drop offline.

The benchmark also shows no sign of improvement in the ease and speed of online public service use over two years.

The global trend is to make online public services mandatory, and create a single online service which will become the service by default, Gianluca Papa added.

Still some barriers

The report also highlights some barriers which continue to prevent a seamless public service experience across borders. Most important are language issues (65%), followed by lack of information and the need for a face to face visit (35% both), the need for document translation (32%), and an eDocument requirement (19%). Difficulty with authentication is mentioned in 16% of cases.

The results of this benchmark testing will give inputs to the next eGovernment Action Plan, currently being developed by the EU. This 2016-2020 Action Plan aims at modernising public services and administrations in Europe by promoting Open Government and ICT, for example, as the recent workshop showed.