At the start of 2013, the UK government outlined its plans to digitally transform 25 major public services. Currently, 15 are live, 9 are at Beta and one is at the Alpha stage.
One of the initiative’s most important aims was to revamp the system by which people register to vote in the general election. In its first year, 37 million people were confirmed on the the online electoral register, with the service reaching 99.9% of voters in England, Wales and Scotland. User satisfaction for the service has been consistently high, with the public appreciating how fast and simple the system was to use.
The UK’s efforts over the last couple of years are indicative of the growing trend towards digital transformation throughout Europe. Germany, for example, has also incorporated a number of central service platforms which operate in a similar manner to those seen in the UK. As more and more countries get on board, a single digital market - where government services can be reached by European citizens both internally and outside of the country’s boarders - is increasingly becoming a possibility. The European Parliament states that the initiative would be a key driver of innovation, and be worth an estimated €640 million.
A single digital market, would, according to the European Commission, tear down regulatory walls, and move from ’28 national markets to a single one’. Not only would it be a catalyst for thousands of new jobs, but the single market could also provide better access to digital goods and services across the entire continent. The restrictions of the current system make it difficult for consumers to purchase goods online from other European countries, and SMEs have little opportunity to expand outside of their native country early on in their development. Progress has seemingly been made. This May, the EU commission revealed that it would be looking to act upon its ’Digital Single Market Strategy’ by the end of 2016.
Some argue that before even attempting to construct a single digital market, certain nations have to catch up with their fellow EU members and drive user centricity and transparency across their native digital systems. In a recent report by Capgemini, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia were shown to be behind their counterparts for both metrics, with only Malta and Estonia attaining top marks in transparency. This means that Europe’s largest economies have yet to perfect their national efforts, which could lead to flaws within a single market.
The EU Commission’s plan should already be set in motion. While it’s still unclear what the single market will look like, if it creates jobs and saves governments money, it should be a success.