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EC adopts €26m cross-border services programme

The ISA Work Programme promises reusable tools and services to help member states roll out electronic public services and improve cross-border interoperability
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The European Commission has formally adopted a €26m programme that will make it easier for member states to share information and develop cross-border public services.

The ISA Work Programme — the acronym stands for 'interoperability solutions for European public administrations' — was adopted on Thursday. The €26m (£22m) programme is extensive, promising reusable tools and services that include electronic identity and signature schemes, a public key infrastructure (PKI), a survey and information collection system, and an information syndication system to feed the 'Your Europe' public information portal.

A common machine translation service is another aim of the programme, as are e-procurement systems and a private network to connect national administrative networks and the internal networks of the European institutions.

"In order to provide user-friendly public services to citizens and businesses, public administrations work together and exchange information, not only within countries but increasingly across borders," inter-institutional relations and administration commissioner Maros Sefcovic said in a statement.

"Such cross-border collaboration touches many aspects of life, including security, justice, the environment, job offers and studying abroad, but also doing business in the single market and the correct spending of EU funds. The ISA programme supports cross-border electronic cooperation between public administrations at national, regional and local level, leading to cost-effective delivery of public services, facilitating the implementation of EU legislation and supporting the single market," he added.

Many of the tools that fall within the programme will be open source, such as the e-Prior tool for implementing public e-procurement services, tools to help national parliaments send and receive electronic legal documents and metadata, and the CIRCABC document management tool.

The programme also aims to integrate Stork — Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed — a pilot project to develop interoperability for pan-European ID card use — and the European Commission Authentication Service (Ecas).

According to a detailed description of the ISA Work Programme, this will benefit European institutions and Commission services because "authenticating using an electronic identity card is 'cooler' than doing so with a login name and password [and] it improves the image and gives a touch of modernity".

The description of the programme also notes that Stork may not be sustainable past the first half of 2011, and calls for research into the sustainability of the project. "The study will focus on... legal and organisational barriers of implementing Stork widely," the Commission's description reads.

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