Single digital gateway to give EU citizens user-friendly access to all national websites

New EU portal could save citizens save up to 855,000 hours of their time annually and companies could save more than €11 billion per year

Marlene Mizzi
Marlene Mizzi

A single digital gateway will help citizens and firms to access information and administrative procedures online, for example to apply for study loans or register a car.

A provisional deal struck with the Council on 24 May to set up a single digital gateway, to make it easier to find information, forms and assistance for people moving to or doing business in another EU country, but also for those staying at home, was endorsed in plenary by 539 votes to 61, with 17 abstentions.

This European single entry point will be integrated in the “Your Europe” portal, available in all languages. It will provide access and links to national and EU web sites and web pages, in a user-friendly way, to enable users to exercise their rights and comply with their obligations within the single market.

Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi (S&D), who steered this legislation through Parliament, said: “Today the European Parliament has achieved an important milestone, which makes it easier for citizens to interact with public authorities. This shall be made possible through the digitalisation of public services and the completion of the digital single market.”

According to the European Commission, this legislation could help EU citizens save up to 855,000 hours of their time annually and companies could save more than €11 billion per year.

“The new rules will make it easier for citizens and businesses to manage their paperwork online through a single digital entry point, which will provide access to administrative procedures and high quality information. Such services are paramount when people want to move, live or study in another EU country and need to request relative documentation - such as a birth certificate, proof of residence or apply for university or study financing, amongst many others. It is also very relevant for businesses that require information relating to cross-border activities and procedures.”

The draft regulation now needs to be formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers. In order to give national, regional and local administrations time to adapt, the target date for placing all relevant procedures online will be five years after the entry into force of the regulation. However, many procedures are already available online now or will be available before that date.

“Once only” principle and data protection

The “once only” principle aims to ensure that citizens and businesses are asked to submit information only once to a public administration, which can then be re-used in other procedures, upon the user’s request. The single digital gateway regulation includes provisions to make sure that this principle is implemented in line with the new data protection rules.

EU member states will be required to grant online access to the most important and frequently used procedures. In “exceptional cases justified by overriding reasons of public interest in the areas of public security, public health or the fight against fraud”, member states may ask the user to appear in person for a procedural step.

The information, online procedures and assistance services provided must be of high quality and accessible to users with disabilities. A user feedback tool will also be available.

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