Under the auspices of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Ministers of the 28 EU countries signed and released on 6 October 2017 the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment. It sets out six lines of policy action – overlapping with many policy fields that are close to AGE concerns – to move towards five-year objectives for the 2018-2022 period at both national and EU levels.
The eGovernment Declaration follows the Malmo Declaration signed in 2009 and the launch of the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 which both recognise that service-oriented, reliable and innovative government at all levels are essential to develop a dynamic, productive and European societies. Since 2009, several key milestones have been achieved, such as eProcurement, the deployment of key cross-border services funded by the Connecting Europe Facility programme and the electronic identification (eID).
A new political commitment towards user-centric digital public services
The Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment marks a new political commitment towards ensuring quality, user-centric digital public services for citizens and seamless cross-border public services for businesses. Member States reaffirmed their will to provide efficient and secure digital public services that will make citizens and businesses lives easier. More precisely, the Tallinn Declaration sets out six lines of policy action:
- Digital-by-default, inclusiveness and accessibility
- Once only “for key public services”
- Trustworthiness and security
- Openness and transparency
- Interoperability by default
- Horizontal enabling policy steps
The declaration lists promising future developments for the digital transformation of public services that could be beneficial to older people. For instance, the annex on user-centricity principles recalls that efforts will be made by public administrations “to reduce the administrative burden on citizens (…) by offering personalised and pro-active services“.
Risks of marginalization for certain categories of population
Although the use of new technologies can facilitate the lives of older persons, many of them are experiencing difficulties with the growing digitalizing of basic services. AGE will therefore keep monitoring future developments related to eGovernment to ensure the accessibility, the affordability and the inclusiveness of the digital public services to be developed.
It can already be highlighted that the declaration makes no mention of the potential barriers hindering the participation of certain categories of population to participatory democracy processes: lack of digital skill; financial difficulties; physical or cognitive impairments, etc.
As the development of eGovernment will make the use of data more and more common, AGE asks for more visibility for older people in the EU statistical work of Eurostat as set out our letter sent in January 2016 on the occasion of the World Data Forum.
Equally important here is the question of choice: citizens should have the right to choose how they receive important information (e.g. tax forms, election documents and bills and statements from service providers, etc) without any disadvantage. This right is promoted in the campaign ‘Keep Me Posted’, supported by AGE.