Proposed new EU Single Digital Gateway to rely on once-only principle

As part of a package of measures announced on 2 May 2017 and aimed at implementing the Digital Single Market initiative, the European Commission proposed to establish a new Single Digital Gateway. The Gateway shall serve as a single point of access to public services provided by EU Member States. Its long-term goal is ambitiously stated as follows:

“Any procedure currently available online for domestic users will be accessible to users from other Member States and in one additional EU language.”

At first, the focus will lie on making 13 key public services available as part of the Gateway. These central administrative procedures are expected to have the highest impact and shall be eventually provided digitally by all EU Member States. They include:

  • Requests for a birth certificate
  • Car registration
  • Starting a business
  • Registering for social security benefits

Moreover, the new Single Digital Gateway shall rely heavily on the once-only principle (OOP), so that data submitted by citizens or businesses once to any EU Member State is efficiently reused by public administrations elsewhere. Thus, important cross-border administrative procedures shall cause as little additional burden as possible.

An adoption of the proposal is planned for 2018, while its launch is foreseen for 2020. The European Commission has also proposed a governance structure for the Gateway, including a coordination body and an annual work programme:

“The effective implementation of the single digital gateway requires a solid governance structure with an annual work programme as a backbone for the implementation actions and future development of the single digital gateway. The Coordination Group will be a forum for co-operation between Member States and the Commission replacing several structures created for the specific service or tool.”

The European Commission estimates that companies in the EU Member States could save up to €11 billion a year if they could manage important administrative procedures through a single portal, such as the proposed Gateway. Thus, implementing such a digital e-government service would mean an annual reduction in the time required of EU citizens of approximately 855,000 hours.

According to the Commission, the Gateway would particularly benefit citizens who move to another EU country or do business there. However, establishing the Single Digital Gateway will, likewise, benefits all citizens of the European Union, as it would encourage Member States to increase their investment in providing viable e-government services.

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