EU unveils digital citizen action plan

Governments are making progress on IT, but the likes of online procurement and invoicing could still save hundreds of billions of euros, according to the EU

The EU has unveiled its e-government action plan, calling for all 25 member states to embrace greater use of online services that will ensure "no citizen is left behind".

According to the EU, "hundreds of billions of euros" can be saved if national governments make greater use of IT. The EU predicts that if governments were to implement 100 percent online procurement and invoicing, 300bn euros (£209bn) could be saved every year.

The e-government action plan, which has been adopted by member states, has committed governments to achieving 100 per cent availability and 50 percent take-up of e-procurement by 2010.

In addition, the action plan calls for inhabitants of the EU to be able to access government services when they move around Europe.

This would require "secure systems for mutual recognition of national electronic identities for public administration websites and services" to be implemented by 2010, according to the plan.

The European Commission will help make this happen by supporting wide-scale "cross-border demonstrators, identifying common specifications for electronic ID management during 2007 and by reviewing the rules of electronic signatures in 2009", the EU said.

The plan also aims to ensure "no citizen is left behind", with all Europeans able to access hardware including PCs, digital TV and mobile phones by the end of the decade.

A recent study into global e-readiness found Denmark to be the world's Web-savviest nation. The country has already opted for online procurement, saving Danish businesses 50m euros and taxpayers as much as 150m euros per year.

Six European countries made it into the e-readiness top 10.