Keep Me Posted EU gives input to the next Ministerial Declaration on digital government

Background:

On behalf of the Estonian presidency of the EU , the Lisbon Council has prepared a set of policy proposals for the next ministerial declaration on digital government, which will shape the future EU policy in this domain. This will follow a Declaration made in 2009 under Swedish Presidency (Malmö Declaration).These proposals are now shared here for the public to comment and to provide input on. The summary of the comments received will be presented to the Member States as an input in the preparation of the declaration. Keep Me Posted EU has benefited from the occasion to raise awareness about the right to choose how to receive important information.

Download the full statement here.

You can find out more here:https://ideas4digitalgov.eu/

Statement:

Although we acknowledge the importance for the Ministerial Declaration on digital government to set goals for efficient e-government services in Europe, we believe it should not advocate for digital only government services. It is important that the Declaration supports the citizen’s right to choose how to communicate with their government, thereby supporting inclusive government services.

In view of the next Ministerial Declaration on digital government aiming at defining future EU policy on digital government and to be approved by Member States in October 2017 in Tallinn, the supporters to the Keep Me Posted EU campaign would like to submit the following comments: We fully acknowledge the benefits of public administrations embracing new communication tools in order to provide more efficient and modern public services. However, we would like to point to the importance of a right for citizen to choose how they receive important administrative or financial information without any disadvantage in terms of access.

The policy proposals refer to the principle of ‘digital by default’ but elude the important principles of social inclusion and accessibility for all.

One out of five European households still have no access to the internet1. Furthermore, vulnerable groups such as senior citizens, rural communities and citizens with specific disabilities are disadvantaged when it comes to internet access and skills. Financial  circumstances may also make it difficult for households to acquire the necessary equipment to access information online. Moreover,
surveys among citizens across Europe show that more than 60% of them prefer physical means of communication for reasons of track keeping, filing, lack of trust in electronic communication and data protection.

Securing the right to choose how citizens access public administration is fundamental for the social inclusion of all European citizens.
Moreover, citizens are increasingly being forced by private companies, in particular service providers – utility companies, banks, insurance companies – to communicate by electronic means regardless of citizens’ willingness or ability to use these communication means. Therefore, we believe that the Declaration should not send a wrong signal in proposing a single approach but should ensure that the right of citizens to choose how they communicate with their government is not taken away.