EC to push e-government agendas

The European Commission will hold a major conference this autumn to promote e-government, but the UK government may not send a representative

The European Commission is set to hold a conference on e-government in Brussels later this year, but it is unclear whether the UK government will be sending a representative to the event.

The conference -- called "From Policy to Practice" -- is being jointly organised by the Commission and the Belgian Government and will take place between 29 and 30 November. It will look at the growth of interactive public e-services, and explore how to explain how using online services is of benefit to citizens and businesses.

According to information distributed by the conference organisers, the commission is hoping to build "a framework to address eGovernment issues beyond the 2002 eEurope Action Plan." This plan was an agreement between member countries that they would work towards the construction of a cheaper, faster, more secure Internet, as well as stimulating Web use, and helping to educate the European public about the new knowledge-based economy.

British government ministers have repeatedly spoken of the importance of putting public services online, but no minister has yet agreed to attend the conference. "We're not sure who, if anyone, will be representing the UK government," a Cabinet Office spokeswoman told ZDNet. She added that they were encouraging local government bodies to send representatives along, to share practical experiences.

The European Commission is keen to involve local, regional and national administrations in the conference, as well as citizens and businesses. According to latest figures, 94 percent of UK councils managed to hit the deadline for submitting their plans for the UK Online project.

The government spokeswoman explained the one reason that a UK representative has not been chosen was that there are several different ministers involved with e-government issues at different levels, who are all working on policy matters. "There will be a lot of announcements coming out of the e-envoy's office in the near future," she promised.

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