Good governance in Europe

E-government: municipality at home!

Transcript of commentary and interviews

Woluwe Saint Pierre municipality in Brussels. Christian Neyt is here to take over his ID card. What’s new is that, for the first time, the card will be an electronic one. All he has to do is to enter his pin code to activate it and the card is ready for use.

Christian Neyt:

The ID card reader identifies the card and so the municipality knows that it’s really you and can send it to you by mail or in another manner. So, it is possible to obtain the requested documents without having to leave your home.

The line for electronic ID cards might become the only one you will be seeing in municipalities. Once you get it, you will not need to drop by again. Woluwe Saint Pierre was the first municipality in Belgium to introduce the Electronic Service. The holder of the card also receives a electronic card reader.

(The municipal clerk handing over the electronic card reader to the citizen):

« Here you have the web address where you can find all information related to the electronic ID card. »

The use of the card starts with the visit to the Internet page of the municipality.

Stephane Van Vlieberge, in charge of the Electronic Service in the municipality: (English)

Now I have to introduce my ID card into the reader and identify myself with one click. Next, I must insert my personal code and then I will have access to all administrative documents. For example, I can renew my parking card.

Twenty four hours later, the new parking card will be in the mailbox. In this way one can get a citizenship or birth certificate and other documents. The municipality says the system is secure. The next step is the introduction of electronic voting.

Stephane Van Vlieberge: (English)

This will be the next stage of “e-Government” – what we call e-Democracy. It means that with their cards the residents of the municipality will be able to vote, for example, about whether a school should be built at a certain location or if some other project should be carried out.”

European taxpayers shall be saving hundreds of millions of euros with the modernization and introduction of electronic administration, claims the European Commission; in its Action Plan it has called member countries to switch to the electronic system of public procurement and invoicing by 2010.

Nicholas P. Heenan, European Commission (English)

« Regarding many things, tax-related operations or obtaining a driver’s license or matters on the municipal level, the electronic services makes life much easier for the citizens and business people, not only for finding information but also to fulfill administrative requirements.

An Italian furniture manufacturer wants to submit an offer to a municipality in Sweden-with electronic public procurement, it will just be enough to visit their web page.

At this week’s Ministerial Conference in Portugal, special awards were handed over for most innovative electronic services Europe-wide. Everyone values shorter waiting lines.

Christian Neyt:

Today we live hectic lives and have increasingly more work; this card allows us not to avoid loosing time in waiting lines, as it was the case today, when I came to pick up my card. Now that have got it, I think it will save me a lot of time.

Belgium was among the first EU countries that introduced five years ago electronic ID cars; other European countries are set to follow suit.