Editorial of January 2017



by Joana Covelo de Abreu, Junior Editor

New year’s resolutions: digital single market in 2017 – the year of interoperability

Digital Single Market is one of the major political goals for EU and its Member States since digital tools have shaped, for the past last decade, how economy behaves and how economic growth is relying on IT tools. In fact, digital economy can create growth and employment all across our continent. On the other hand, digital mechanisms cover almost every economic field, from transportation to clothes, from movies to sports since online platforms have the ability to create and shape new markets, challenging traditional ones.

The Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) is one of the initiatives under Europe 2020 Strategy and it aims to promote economic growth and social benefits by achieving the digital single market. So it is named as one of the secondary public interests that must be pursued by European administration – both national public administrations (when they apply EU law and act as European functioning administrations) and European institutions and, in that sense, especially national public administrations must feel engaged to promote this end and objective, otherwise if those are the ones to firstly resist to innovation, Internal Market adaptation to new framework standards will suffer and economic prosperity in Europe can be undermined.

Therefore, EU has created several mechanisms to foster interoperability solutions that would bring together institutions, national public administrations, companies and individuals. In this context, interoperability stands for “the ability of disparate and diverse organizations to interact towards mutually beneficial and agreed common goals, involving the sharing of information and knowledge between organizations, through the business processes they support, by means of the exchange of data between their respective ICT systems”. It demands and implies an effective interconnection between digital components where standardization has an essential role to play in increasing the interoperability of new technologies within the Digital Single Market. It aims to facilitate access to data and services in a protected and interoperable environment, promoting fair competition and data protection.

One of major goals under European Single Market promoted by interoperability solutions is the once only principle which demands national authorities to create synergies in order to deal with information previously given even if when it was presented to different administrative structures by using common digital databases and structures, with impact on mutual recognition and reciprocal trust’s principles. Under this context, e-Government is the visible face of interoperability solutions, when applicable to Public Administrations’ relations. E-Government relates to those situations (more and more frequent) when government relies on IT tools to develop its competences, especially when Member States’ governments started to implement online portals where created several devises to interconnect with the population. Those facilities improved services’ quality. However, in order to avoid degenerative phenomenon, such as e-Politics, it is important to implement interoperability solutions bearing in mind both principles of proportionality and non discrimination and equality.

But setting interoperability solutions is not easy especially when it comes to engage all national public entities, as it was possible to see under ECJ’s case law Commission vs. Portugal, of 5th October 2016, based on an infringement procedure. In this case law, Commission asks for Portuguese infringement declaration based on its lack to create, under Regulation n.º 1071/2009, of 21st October 2009, a national electronic database of road transports’ operators allowing electronic interconnection between national databases. That infringement was declared because, by not creating that database, Portugal was raising severe difficulties on achieving interoperability solutions (whereas 6) and, therefore, preventing administrative cooperation and simplification among Member States.

2017 is the New Year and, with this New Year, comes new goals to fulfil.

2017 was the year set by the European institutions to fully grasp Digital Single Market interoperability solutions’ implementation. We will be here to make the necessary approaches in order to understand if Member States will continue to struggle as Portugal did, landing on its infringement declaration or if, despite Portuguese struggle, other Member States are adhering to this new digital path. One thing we know for sure: ECJ’s decisions like the one we mentioned can have the ability to overcome national difficulties and to open a dialogue between national public entities that, otherwise, could create serious difficulties to EU goals.

Picture credits: Untitled by geralt.

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