European digital strategy 'could boost public services'
Plans unveiled yesterday to remove barriers to cross-border data sharing could help the development of public services, according to the European Commission.
The commission has launched its Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe, aimed at creating €250m of growth by 2024.
One of the measures – a European “free flow of data” initiative aims to standardise data protection and consumer rules across member states.
Commission president Jean Claude Junker said: “Enhancing the use of digital technologies and online services should become a horizontal policy, covering all sectors of the economy and of the public sector."
The data strand of the strategy would address issues of ownership, interoperability, usability and access to data in situations such as business-to-business, business to consumer, machine generated and machine-to-machine data.
It will also encourage access to public data to help drive innovation, it said.
The European Centre of Employers and Enterprises Providing Public Services (CEEP), welcomed the strategy.
CEEP general secretary Valeria Ronzitti, said: “The Digital Single Market Strategy stresses the growing importance of e-services, such as e-government, e-energy, e-transport and e-health.
“Since the beginning of the economic crisis, public services providers have been facing new and complex challenges, such as budget cuts and the search for improved efficiency. For our members, e-services clearly represent an important instrument to become even more efficient and effective.”
But she warned that additional investment was needed in digital infrastructure, particularly broadband networks, to achieve the full potential of digital services.
The strategy also covers proposals to allow video content to be viewed freely across member stats, reduce VAT on cross-border trade and change rules relating to telecoms.
It also proposes new certification procedures for cloud providers.
Lobby organisation European Digital Rights said proposals on the protection of personal data do not go far enough.
It said: “The commission seems to seek to reinforce “trust and security in the handling of personal data”.
“To do that, it proposes an unspecified “review” of the e-privacy directive with no goal other than the vague “level playing field” that certain operators have lobbied for.”
The Digital Single Market project team will now draw up detailed proposals, and the initiative will be discussed again at a meeting of the European Council in June.
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