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European ministers have signed a declaration outlining policies to deliver 'smarter' online public services by 2015.

At the fifth Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Malmö in Sweden on 19 and 20 November 2009, EU ministers agreed measures to make e-government more accessible, interactive and customised.

The aims over the next five years are:

- to empower businesses and citizens through e-government services designed around users' needs, better access to information and their active involvement in the policy making process;

- to facilitate mobility in the single market by seamless e-government services for setting up business, studying, working, residing and retiring in Europe;

- to enhance government services by reducing the administrative burden, improving organisational processes and using ICT to improve energy efficiency in public administrations.

The declaration was welcomed by the European Commission, which is working with member states to set targets for the European e-government agenda.

It will launch an action plan in the second half of 2010 setting out how the objectives in the ministerial declaration can be achieved.

Figures from a report prepared for the European Commission and released on 19 November show that 71 per cent of the public services measured are fully available online through portals or websites, against only 59 per cent in 2007.

According to the report the UK, Austria, Malta, Portugal, Sweden and Slovenia are leading in the availability of services. Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia are making important progress, but differences across Europe remain significant.

The report also looked at the availability of e-procurement, which is now at about 60 per cent across the EU, still far from the 100 per cent target for 2010 set by the i2010 eGovernment action plan.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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