On the 22nd of November, the Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn delivered an insightful speech on interoperability and eGovernment during the “Smooth navigation through the world of public administration 2022” conference in Prague.
The event was organised by the European Commission and the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The main topic was the adoption of the Interoperable Europe Act proposal and its value to public administrations, citizens and businesses. “Public administrations are often described as very big ships that need time to move. My vision is rather one of a diverse fleet of boats navigating together, with agility, around all obstacles along the way. What facilitates this is interoperability”, he said.
What else? Read the full transcription of the speech below.
Dear digital government community,
A well-functioning, digital, open – and interoperable – public sector is essential for Europe to manage the political, social and economic challenges of our times.
Your community is essential for developing better IT services and bringing more innovation to the public sector. You generate new ideas to tackle the challenges, with an open mind and fast reaction.
Public administrations are often described as very big ships that need time to move. My vision is rather one of a diverse fleet of boats navigating together, with agility, around all obstacles along the way. What facilitates this is interoperability.
This is why we just proposed a new regulation for strengthened Interoperable Europe. It allows us - European institutions and Member States – to work together on commonly and openly reusable interoperability solutions and deliver better digital public services. I know that most of you here in this conference have been closely involved in designing this policy and I thank you very much for this collaborative effort.
For navigation we first need a map! With the new interoperable Europe Act, nobody tells where countries (or “ships” to use the metaphor) need to go. Instead, we aim at creating a structured cooperation framework that makes identifying the destination, and navigating there, together, possible.
One of the game-changers of the Act are mandatory assessments on interoperability aspects of upcoming policy proposals. By injecting digital considerations early on in policymaking, public administrations can set a legal framework that is clearer and simpler to implement. And one that ensures trusted data flows. Good for people, businesses, and civil society.
A strengthened interoperability policy, however, does not mean an EU top down "one-size-fits-all" approach. It means supporting bottom-up efforts, cooperation and giving more certainty for regional and national investments and policy decisions.
Second, for navigation we need a compass!
Europe’s declaration on digital rights and principles sets the values Europe defends in its digital transformation. This is particularly important for policy makers and companies when dealing with new technologies.
Governments guide on how to develop trustworthy IT tools and ensure transparency of data and algorithms used.
We want to encourage common experimentation around innovative public sector technologies. Experimentation mitigates risk of yet unknown technology impacts; it helps with trustworthiness. And GovTech is one of the tools to achieve this.
We cooperate closely with the Member States to set up a GovTech Incubator to help public administrations, SMEs and startups work together and come up with innovative solutions. Solutions that are ready and open for reuse by other administrations.
This involves technologies such as Artificial Intelligence or blockchain, or applying innovative procurement procedures.
With the Interoperable Europe Act we also step up cross-border innovation cooperation on digital public services by helping set up regulatory sandboxes.
Finally, navigation should be done in good company! The key to successful implementation is the true co-ownership of Member States, represented by their core stakeholders and government Chief Information Officers.
It is them – you – responsible for interoperability at national level and for implementing interoperable EU wide policy tools and systems.
Interoperability solutions cannot be developed by anybody on his or her own. That is why the proposal establishes flexible and open co-creation processes between the actors most involved, based on a stable, accountable and fully transparent cooperation structure. The proposal is an example of digital-ready and “future-proof” policy-making.
To sum up, the four fundamentals of our Interoperable Europe Act proposal are:
- structured cooperation structure co-owned by the Member States and the Commission to support interoperability in an ever evolving technology and policy context.
- mandatory assessments for “interoperable-by-design” EU law and policymaking.
- innovation and joint experimentation, notably through GovTech cooperation with the private sector.
- common and openly reusable solutions for administrations at all levels to build interoperable systems and services.
This will be our shared compass in the years to come in moving towards the digital transformation of the European public administrations.
I wish us all a safe journey into reaching the harbour together.
A video recording of the speech is available below.
Find out more about the Act here.