Electronic Procedures

Electronic Procedures in Europe

Electronic procedures in relation to the E.U. Services Directive

The following is an examination of electronic procedures regarding the European Union Servicies Directive [1]:

Electronic procedures: Administrative Simplification

The setting-up of fully functioning and interoperable electronic procedures by the end of the implementation period is a key element for attaining the goal of administrative simplification of the Services Directive. Electronic procedures are an essential tool to make administrative procedures considerably less burdensome for service providers and for public authorities alike. The possibility to complete administrative procedures at a distance will be particularly important for service providers from other Member States. Moreover, electronic procedures will also contribute to the modernisation of public administrations by rendering them more efficient. Following an initial investment, the use of electronic procedures should prove to be money-and time-saving for administrations.

The setting up of electronic procedures that can be used across borders has been part of Member States' and the Community e-Government objectives for some time now50. In the Services Directive, Member States have now entered into a legal commitment to have “e-Government” services in place by a set date. By the end of 2009, service providers should be able to complete electronically and at a distance all procedures and formalities necessary to provide a given service.

The implementation of electronic procedures in relation to the E.U. Services Directive

The following is an examination of the implementation of electronic procedures regarding the European Union Servicies Directive [1]:

The implementation of electronic procedures: Electronic procedures

In a number of Member States, some e-Government services for businesses have already been put in place or are underway. Also, several initiatives aimed at interoperable e-Government services have been launched and are ongoing both at national and Community level, in particular in the framework of the i2010 strategy55.

The implementation of the obligation undertaken in Article 8 by the end of 2009 will be a considerable challenge for Member States, which should increase their already ongoing efforts to work towards interoperable e-Government services for businesses. Member States are encouraged to build upon the existing initiatives. Indeed, the obligation in the Services Directive should be seen as a chance to boost current efforts and to help Member States to focus and deliver the objectives they have set themselves as part of their e-Government work.

One of the core issues to be tackled in order to put in place functioning electronic procedures across the EU is interoperability56. Given the fact that at a national level different requirements and legal, organisational, semantic and technical arrangements are in place with regard to existing or planned electronic procedures, several issues may arise, be they political, legal or technical (linked to identification, authentication, electronic document exchange/recognition, etc.), which would require a certain level of coordination and cooperation between Member States. This, however, does not mean that Member States are expected to harmonise their e-Government solutions or to use one model only. Member States are free to choose their models, while bearing in mind that electronic procedures have to be available both to their own nationals/residents and to service providers from other Member States, who should in principle be able to use their national means to deal with public authorities in other Member States. This would be in line with the objective of cross-border interoperable e-Government services, the idea of administrative simplification and the facilitation of cross-border service provision. If access to e-Government services in another Member State requires service providers to use the (identification/authentication) means of that other Member State new complications and burdens for services providers may arise. Indeed, if service providers need to obtain national means of all Member States where they wish to provide their services, this may result in delays and costs which in principle should be avoided (moreover, in some Member States they may even be required to obtain several means, a separate one for each application, which further complicates the situation). When considering how to tackle this issue Member States need to avoid creating additional burdens or adopting solutions that may slow down the introduction of interoperable e-Government services across borders in the long run.

More Details about the implementation of electronic procedures

In order to work towards interoperable solutions, the Commission will play an active role and assist Member States in the task of setting up electronic procedures. In particular, the Commission will encourage the exploitation of synergies between the existing e-Government initiatives under the i2010 strategy and the objective of achieving electronic procedures across the EU by the end of 2009.

The key issues linked to cross-border interoperability of different e-Government services (like authentication/ identification or e-documents) are already being discussed, and possible solutions are being considered, in the e-Government framework. It is not clear yet whether and in what respect there will be a need to resort to the Comitology procedure referred to in Article 8(3). The aim should be not to replicate the work done in other fora, but to use Comitology only if value added can be achieved by this. In order to decide whether a Committee should be used, and what role it could have, it is necessary to further analyse the issue of interoperability to see whether and to what extent the existing initiatives are not sufficient to solve the issues.

The scope of the obligation to provide for electronic procedures in relation to the E.U. Services Directive

The following is an examination of the scope of the obligation to provide for electronic procedures regarding the European Union Servicies Directive [1]:

The scope of the obligation to provide for electronic procedures: Electronic procedures

Article 8 establishes an obligation for Member States to “ensure that all procedures and formalities relating to access to a service activity and to the exercise thereof may be easily completed, at a distance and by electronic means, through the relevant point of single contact and with the relevant competent authorities”.

In order to ensure that electronic procedures are easily accessible for providers, they should in principle be available via publicly accessible communication networks such as the Internet. Such an understanding is also in line with the use of the term “electronic means” in other Internal Market instruments51.

Article 8 covers procedures and formalities required for establishment as well as any procedure and formality which might be necessary in the case of cross-border provision of services. Electronic procedures have to be available not only for service providers resident or established in the Member State of the administration but also for service providers resident or established in other Member States. This means that service providers should be able to complete procedures and formalities by electronic means across borders52.

Procedures and formalities which service providers need to be able to complete by electronic means, in principle, encompass all procedures and formalities relating to access to a service activity and to the exercise thereof. Electronic means have to be available for the whole administrative process, from the service provider's initial application/submission of documents to the final reply, if required, from the relevant competent authority. Nevertheless, Article 8(2) provides for three logical exceptions from the obligation to provide for electronic means: (i) the inspection of premises on which the service is provided; (ii) the inspection of the equipment used by the provider; and (iii) the physical examination of the capability or the personal integrity of the provider or his responsible staff.

More Details about the scope of the obligation to provide for electronic procedures

On the basis of Article 8, electronic procedures should be available for transactions both through the “points of single contact”53, and also for direct transactions with competent authorities. In practical terms this means first that electronic procedures have to be available for all administrative procedures which service providers will have to be able to carry out through the points of single contact. Second, service providers should have a possibility to communicate directly with a relevant authority if they so choose, for example in cases where only one competent authority is involved and it may be easier to deal directly with the authority. Establishing

electronic procedures for the completion of all necessary procedures and formalities does not, of course, mean that Member States cannot maintain or provide for other means to complete procedures and formalities54. On the contrary, different means to complete administrative procedures and formalities should possibly co-exist. However, in any case, electronic procedures must be available as a choice for service providers.

Finally, in line with the e-Government objectives, it would make sense to establish electronic procedures not only for the services covered by the Services Directive, but also for other services as far as the benefits of electronic procedures established under the Services Directive could also be used more widely in the framework of e-Government services to businesses.

Electronic procedures in relation to the E.U. Services Directive

The following reviews some of the entries in this European legal encyclopedia about electronic procedures regarding the European Union Servicies Directive:

  • the scope of the obligation to provide for electronic procedures
  • the implementation of electronic procedures

Resources

Notes

  1. Information on the scope of the obligation to provide for electronic procedures based on the EU Services Directive Handbook, UK Government

See Also

Resources

Notes

  1. Information on the implementation of electronic procedures based on the EU Services Directive Handbook, UK Government

See Also

Resources

Notes

  1. Information on electronic procedures based on the EU Services Directive Handbook, UK Government

See Also

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