European governments gaining ground in digital space

07 September 2015 5 min. read

Creating a Digital Single Market is, according to EU officials, key to unlocking huge potential for growth, innovation and employment across the European region. To realise the Digital Single Market, an eGovernment Action Plan was drafted in 2011 that sought to help member countries improve their internal and cross boarder eGovernment service. In a recent report from Capgemini Consulting, the level of implementation of the Action Plan is measured, finding that while some categories are relatively well implemented by a number of countries, other categories – like cross boarder access – still have a long way to go.

Creating a Digital Single Market, by which government services can be freely engaged with internally and across boarders by citizen and businesses in different countries, has the potential to drive innovation, stimulate growth and create employment opportunities across the European region. The economic value of an easy to use eGovernment service platform has been estimated to be €640 billion, according to study from the European Parliament.

In a recently released report, prepared for the European Commission DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology, by among others Capgemini Consulting, the level of digital development of eGovernment services is surveyed across 33 countries in the EU-28+ block (+Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey). The report, titled ‘Future-proofing eGovernment for a Digital Single Market’, benchmarks and aggregates the eGovernment sophistication of countries.

Service implementation benchmark

One area unveiled by the report is the extent to which governments are bringing relevant eGovernment policy to implementation, related to the eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015 policy. Their 2015 efforts are compared with the previous study in 2013, but along different key indicators, with this year’s benchmark focusing on the ease of dealing with the following life events through the relevant services: starting up a businesses, losing and finding a job, and studying. The components of that plan are spread across three policy priorities that are reflected in the benchmark categories of User- centricity, Transparency, Cross-border Mobility, and the adoption of Key Enablers.

Benchmark by country

User centricity
This category of eGovernment capability explores the extent to which services are provided online and how users perceive the quality of these services. It is the best scoring area overall with a score of 73%.  In this section usability was benchmarked at 80, up from 77 in 2013, while online availability was at 75, up from 72 in 2013. Other factors, like ease of use and speed of use remain fragmented across various territories, with little change in the benchmark at 60 points and 56 points respectively. For a wider performance, the majority of countries stand in the highest cluster, with Belgium, France, Italy, Latvia, and Poland joining since the last report. No countries find themselves in the lowest category.

The second performance category is transparency, whose overall score has increased from 48 points to 51 points since the last report. This benchmark evaluates the transparency of government authorities’ operations, service delivery procedures and the accessibility of personal data to users. The best performing metric is that of making public organisations’ information more transparent, with a score of 60%, up from 59% in 2013, while the personal data score managed to increase slightly, up from 47% to 52%. The lowest scoring category is service delivery, at 41% and up slightly from 39% in 2013. At the country level, Malta and Estonia are the top players, with 16 countries still below the 50% mark.

Benchmark by country 2

Cross-border online public services
This category, which explores the overall experience of dealing with online public services outside one’s own country, is still unsatisfactory, in particular for citizens. The overall score in this category is 48%, up from 44% in 2013. The online availability of services remains low for citizen access, at 46%, up from 42% in 2013. In total 23 or the 33 countries involved are below the 50% mark. For business users however, more than halve of the countries (19) have online service availability, with Malta, Norway, UK, Denmark, Ireland, Finland, Cyprus and Estonia in the top performing group for online cross boarder business services.

Key enablers
The final category looks at in how far eGovernment service are using technology as a key driver behind improving online public services and achieving ‘more with less’. This top-level benchmark shows a 1-point improvement, standing at 50%. The best scoring category is Electronic Identification (eID), which is becoming more widely available and stands at an average 63%. Estonia achieves a 100% score, with a similar level to Denmark. Single Sign On, which means that one log in is required for multiple services has a 58% adoption rate, with Denmark, Spain, France, Iceland, Lithuania, and Malta all achieving this service. Authenticated documents also do relatively well, with a 57% uptake, although no big changes since the previous report. This category has one of the biggest variability in uptake between countries; the UK for instance is in the worst performing group, along with Hungry and the Czech Republic. Top performers include Latvia, Denmark and Estonia.

The researchers conclude: “Personalisation and shifting the focus from the national level to the European level are a key next step for European countries when it comes to delivering public services and unlocking the full potential of a Digital Single Market in the near future.”