E-gov slows in Europe

eEurope

E-government continues to expand throughout Europe, but growth is slowing and businesses have a distinct advantage in accessing online services over citizens, according to a new survey by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

Only 45 percent of government services are fully available online, although 67 percent are at least offering two-way transaction, up 7 percent from 2002. That growth is much smaller than the 15 percent jump made from 2001 to 2002, according to the survey, which covered the 15 countries of the European Union, along with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

The expansion of interaction with the private sector spread to more European countries, however. In 2002, only Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and Finland showed progress in that area, but in 2003, almost all the countries surveyed made improvement.

Government-to-business interaction is much farther along than government-to-citizen. Twelve of the survey's 20 basic e-government services are for businesses, and approximately 63 percent of the services for businesses are fully available online, as opposed to only 32 percent for citizens.

"Clearly Europe's nation states continue to make good progress in e-government," Stan Cozon, the company's public-sector global leader, said in a statement. "However, taking the measure of Europe's progress on services fully available online, the picture is rather pessimistic. The [European Commission] will want to encourage member states to enhance the number of public services fully available online, particularly those aimed at citizens."

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young performed the survey on behalf of the European Commission. It is the fourth such survey, and a core part of the union's eEurope program, which the commission launched in 2002 to advance e-government by 2005. The commission plans to integrate the results of this latest study into its efforts to implement e-government metrics.

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