2021 MENA-OECD Ministerial Week
Governance Forum: ‘Visions for Recovery: Digital Governance and rule of law for more open, accessible and efficient public services’
Session Theme: ‘Governing the design and delivery of services in the digital age’
The EU’s efforts are based on the conviction that digital solutions will benefit everyone:
opening up new opportunities for businesses; foster an open and democratic society; enable sustainable and inclusive economy; help fight climate change and achieve a green transition. A successful digital transformation is enabling the public sector to operate efficiently and effectively in the digital environment.
Digital transformation is also important for other key EU policy areas: gender mainstreaming is at the core of the digital agenda! Compliments to the organisers for having put together a gender balanced panel with strong representatives both from the Νorth and the South of the Mediterranean.
The EU’s political commitment is a driving force for successful digital transformation. At the policy level it is based on “Europe fit for the digital age” which spells out the key priorities for the EU. On the operational level the European Digital Strategy promotes technology that works for the people; a fair and competitive digital economy; and an open, democratic and sustainable society.
There are clear targets for the EU Vision, by 2030: all key public services should be available online; all citizens will have access to their e-medical records, and 80% citizens should use an eID solution; 80% of all adults should have basic digital skills; more than 90% SMEs should reach at least basic level of digital intensity, and three out of four companies should use cloud-computing services, big data and Artificial Intelligence.
More concretely, the EU mobilises now the following flagship programmes to support the Digital Agenda: 1. Digital Europe Programme to bring digital technology to businesses and citizens; 2. Connecting Europe Facility that supports trans-European networks and infrastructures; 3. EU4Health addresses health security and prepare for future health crises; and 4. Recovery and Resilience Facility (EUR 672 billion) - offers financial support for investments and reforms in EU Member States.
Efforts by the EU Member States are key. All Member States and EFTA countries signed the 'e-Government Declaration' in Tallin (2017). The Declaration recognised the role of digitalisation in strengthening trust in government. All European public administrations dedicated efforts to implement relevant standards and principles. All European public administrations have catered for and worked on improving e-Government infrastructure, such as such as e-Invoicing, eProcurement, eID, or e-Delivery.
The Covid-19 pandemic posed a challenging paradigm but also opportunities. Digital technologies have become indispensable to ensuring that citizens and businesses continue to access quality and essential services. The Commission’s Communication on ‘Europe’s Moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation’ considered the digital single market as a pillar for the COVID-19 recovery. Proposals include developing e-ID, investing in Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity, 5G networks, building a real data economy and developing national e-procurement system.
The digital transformation is a central element of the EU’s Agenda for the Mediterranean which puts forward a renewed framework to strengthen the strategic partnership between the EU and its Southern Neighbourhood in line with Europe’s Digital strategy. The digital future goes beyond national boundaries!
The Agenda for the Mediterranean builds upon lessons learned through EU regional and bilateral programmes which have supported public administration reform and e-government in the Southern Mediterranean. The EU-OECD SIGMA Programme introduced tailor-made principles for public administrations and provided exposure to best practices for the design of user-centric services and administrative simplification, including through use of digital technologies. The strategic cooperation between the EU and the Council of Europe supports the rule of law aspect in the Southern Mediterranean in particular on the digitalisation of administrative courts in order to improve performance and efficiency.
More specifically on Egypt I should mention that the country benefits from regional programmes in partnership with SIGMA and the Council of Europe, in particular in administrative simplification and improving the regulatory framework for businesses. A bilateral programme for supporting public administration reform is supporting improvements in public services through business process reengineering and the use of ICT. Just now and in response to Covid-19 crisis, existing and new actions rely on technological innovations and ICT in sectors of education and TVET (e-learning), social protection services (e-tools to scale up outreach to vulnerable groups and to train social workers), women’s financial inclusion (use of digital wallets), child protection system (support to the National Child Help Line).
Digital transformation is also at the core of our next programming cycle. The ‘Team Europe’ initiative is an important priority for the new financial instrument 2021-27.
Through our joint effort with Member States and Financial Institutions, we are ready to support Egypt in areas of digital transformation and improvement of services.