Public Services > Central Government

UK slips to  “European average” in terms of digitising its services, EU study shows

Matteo Natalucci Published 28 November 2017

Survey wants smarter and more open eGovernment services to augment general progress; key UK challenge is to “increase availability of enablers such as electronic identification and authentication sources”


The European Commission (EC) has published  the results of its annual eGovernment survey, which presents the main highlights of the assessment of eGovernment services across Europe.

The study, carried out for EC by a consortium composed by Capgemini, IDC, Sogeti, and the Politecnico di Milano, covers 34 countries: the European Union Member States, as well as Iceland, Norway, Montenegro, Republic of Serbia, Switzerland, and Turkey (EU28+).

The The 2017 eGovernment Benchmark study puts a spotlight on the state-of-play of the digital transformation of European public administrations and the extent to which they are ‘on track’ with regard to achieving these objectives.

The eGovernment Benchmark provides an evaluation of the digital service quantity and quality in relation to four life events: starting a business, losing and finding a job, studying, and family life in the EU28+ countries.  

The report includes breakdown on how each European country is faring in terms of digitising its services, with the results showing that the UK is falling behind Spain, Germany, Italy and France in terms of digitising its services.

The benchmark revealed that, in 2017, the UK has fallen to around the European average in terms of digitising its services, with an overall digitisation score of 59% comparing to other European economies including Spain (76%), Germany (76%), Italy (64%) and France (63%).

According to the report, the key challenge for the UK is to increase availability of key enablers such as electronic identification and authentication sources. The UK’s score for key enablers is 22% compared to a 52% EU average.

In regards to user centricity, 82% of UK public websites reached a mature level of online availability of services and of interaction and feedback possibilities. This was above the EU average (80%).

The UK is one of the leading countries when it comes to mobile friendliness of public websites, with 91% compared to the European average of 54%.

UK has also made progress in improving its transparency of personal data (70% compared to EU average of 53%). However transparency of service delivery is only 41 % (compared to 50% EU average).

The report also found out that three in five European public services are already online, more than half (54%) of which are mobile friendly.

Niels Van Der Linden, Principal Consultant at Capgemini Consulting and lead for the eGov benchmark, commented on the UK findings “The UK is undoubtedly a leader in terms of digital innovation and the design of user-centric services, so it might seem surprising that this year’s eGov Benchmark shows it slightly falling behind the group of the biggest European economies (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) in terms of digitising its services.

 Van Der Linden added, “The challenge for the UK in climbing up the ranks is to increase the availability of key enablers such as electronic identification and authentication sources, where other countries have already made steps forward.”

Overall, good progress was made on the mobile friendliness dimension, with more than half of the services (54%) being mobile friendly (compared to 27% in 2015).

User centricity of European public services reached the average of 85% which indicates a mature level of online availability of services and of interaction and feedback possibilities between citizens and public administrations.

Furthermore, cross-border mobility increased modestly. Yet, the survey suggested that extended implementation of the eIDAS regulation, is likely to further boost the availability of information and services for EU citizens when starting up a business or studying abroad. The eIDAS Regulation aims to ensure that people and businesses can use their own national electronic identification schemes (eIDs) to access public services in other EU countries where eIDs are available. Also, it intents to enable convenient and secure electronic transactions across EU borders for citizens, businesses, and public sector institutions.

The report shows that the European public sector continues to bring more services online. While countries quantitatively increased the online availability of public services, qualitative measures (e.g. more transparent delivery procedures and prepopulating online forms with personal data) are necessary to improve the overall digital service experience.

Overall, the eGovernment Benchmark 2017 calls for smarter and more open eGovernment services to augment general progress. It highlights the need for a focus on greater transparency and investing in key digital enablers (such as electronic identification) to strengthen eGovernment and fully establish the Digital Single Market in the coming years.

Both transparency measures and investments in digital key enablers, such as electronic identification (eID) and Authentic Sources to re-use data, are foreseen in the report as priorities for the EU28+ countries.

The report argues that, in terms of transparency, public authorities need to catch up on disclosing information on the process of service delivery, their own responsibilities and performance, as well as personal data usage. Besides transparency, the use of technological pre-conditions (key enablers) such as eID and Authentic Sources, still has room to accelerate. Improvements were also observed in 2016 on the availability of each of these. However, progress is still modest given the two-year timeframe between measurements.

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