The Commission welcomes the agreement reached last evening between the European Parliament and Council on the Interoperable Europe Act. This regulation will strengthen cross-border interoperability and cooperation in the public sector across the EU. The Commission proposed the Act to help achieve Europe’s digital targets for 2030, by making key public services available online to all persons in the EU without discrimination. Agreement reached today paves the way towards completing the Digital Single Market.
The Interoperable Europe Act brings public sector exchange of information across the Union to a next level and accelerates the digital transformation of Europe’s public sector. It introduces a cooperation framework for public administrations across the EU to help cross-border exchange of data. This cooperation ensures agreement on interoperable and re-usable digital solutions, such as open-source software, guidelines, checklists, frameworks, and IT tools. In doing so, it helps to remove administrative burdens, including legal, organisational, semantic and technical obstacles to administrative cooperation.
The Act will ensure seamless access to cross-border public services for people in the EU, improving the quality of life for those wishing to work, study or retire in another Member State, including the 150 million EU citizens living in a border region, or two million commuters between Member States.
The legal text now needs to be approved and adopted, before the Regulation can enter into force. The Commission is already preparing the ground to ensure a smooth and timely implementation of the Regulation.
Interoperability is about achieving common goals together, despite organisational or geographical distance between actors. Public sector interoperability represents the ability of administrations to cooperate and make public services function across borders, sectors and organisational boundaries. It saves time and costs for people and businesses by improving their interactions with administrations. The fight against Covid-19 serves as a great example of effective interoperability. The creation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate facilitated cross-border travel in the EU during the pandemic.
Interoperable digital public services are essential for building the Digital Single Market. Apart from the economic benefits and efficiency gains, experience shows that interoperability improves user centricity and positively affects public values, such as improving trust from citizens in their governments.
In the past years, digital government and data experts have developed wide-ranging common interoperability cooperation practices based on the current European Interoperability Framework (EIF). However, recent evaluations have exposed the limitations of this entirely voluntary cooperation approach.
EU Member States have increasingly stressed the need to strengthen European interoperability cooperation. Among others, the ministerial declarations signed in 2017 in Tallinn and in 2020 in Berlin attest to this necessity. Likewise, EU citizens participating in the Conference on the Future of Europe called for facilitating cross-border interoperability.