Natalia Aristimuño Pérez
Natalia Aristimuño Pérez is responsible for the Interoperability unit in the Directorate-General for Informatics in the European Commission since March 2017.
Previously, she has been the head of the units delivering solutions on human resources, decision making, document management and knowledge management domains. Since she joined the European Commission in the year 2000, she has always been involved in providing solutions making users' life easier and the institution more efficient. Holding an IT background, graduated in Deusto University (Bilbao, Spain), she has a deep knowledge of the business domains she works with.
In November 2016, the European Commission proposed a Regulation on the Governance of the Union. Its main goals were: a) to ensure the achievement of the objectives of the Energy Union, especially the EU's 2030 energy and climate targets; b) to promote long-term certainty and predictability for investors; c) to reduce administrative burdens, in line with the principle of better regulation; d) to incorporate the provisions of the existing Climate Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (MMR) and harmonise them with the provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement.
As part of these regulations, the Commission announced several forthcoming new initiatives in the energy field in January and February 2018, regarding the eco-design and energy labelling of various products through its Contribute to EU law-making website. As part of the work carried out by the Interoperability Unit at the Directorate-General for Informatics (DG DIGIT), and in the scope of our digital screening activity, we promote semantic interoperability by applying our core criteria and evidence vocabularies and supporting the design of the EPREL system (European Registry for Energy Labelling). This project focuses on the design of energy labels to meet minimum energy efficiency standards allowing the exchange of data between different organisations.
At the dawn of the digital era, we imagined bureaucracy and paperwork would be reduced to a simple click. But the lack of interoperability across the national borders and sectors of Europe often makes things unbearable.
By 2020, 1,500,000 citizens and 300,000 businesses are likely to use cross-border online services every year. The European vision for digital public administrations is to be open, efficient, and inclusive, and to provide borderless, interoperable, personalised, user-friendly, end-to-end digital public services to citizens and businesses. Interoperability is therefore recognised as a condition for the modernisation of public administrations.
Is interoperability something new then? Not at all! We started supporting exchanges of data between administrations in 1995, running the IDA Programme between 2000 and 2005, followed by the IDABC Programme (2005-2010), the ISA Programme (2010-2015) and currently the ISA2 Programme (2016- 2020).
History of the Programme. Source: European Commission
These programmes identified a continuous problem: the lack of interoperability at all levels. We took the first step towards connecting public administrations in 2005, with the first version of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF). The challenge was clear: to ensure a structurally integrated framework that provides effective support and guidance. EIF is designed to be a generic framework applicable to all public administrations in the EU at European, national, regional and local levels.
The Commission confirmed the key role of interoperability in its review of EIF 2010 as part of the Digital Single Market roadmap. Following improved regulation guidelines and a thorough consultation with Member States representatives to the ISA² Committees and with the public, a new EIF was adopted on 23 March 2017.
This framework provides one conceptual model and 47 concrete recommendations to boost interoperability and support the digitisation of public administrations in Europe. It complements the traditional four levels of interoperability, with a new vertical dimension related to 'integrated public services governance'. The latter should cross all layers: legal, organisational, semantic and technical.
European Interoperability Framework at a glance. Source: European Commission
On 6 October 2017, 32 national ministers confirmed their commitment to the European Interoperability Framework by signing the eGovernment Ministerial Declaration. The Tallinn Declaration recognised that the digital transformation of public administration can be greatly facilitated by interoperability
To monitor the implementation of the EIF and consequently the level of alignment of Member States’ National Interoperability Frameworks (NIFs) to the European one, the Interoperability Unit created the National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) under the IDABC Programme. This tool allows us to identify the gaps and needs of each Member State, helping them to react accordingly.
Level of alignment of the EU Member States NIFs to the EIF. Source: European Commission
As Andrus Ansip, Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said at the Digital and Open Government Conference in June 2016, 'Getting rid of complex, paper-based and duplicated processes will help to make the single market a reality in the digital age. It will make it easier for everyone to interact with governments, based on openness and transparency.'
The EIF has been used as the paradigm for interoperability-related activities not only by Member States in their NIFs and digital agendas, but also by domain specific interoperability frameworks such as the e-Health, eIDAS, Inspire.
ISA², an EU funding programme of €131M for the period 2016-2020, supports the implementation of the new EIF. It underpins 53 actions in the ISA2 Work Programme for 2018, covering different domains and layers of interoperability. Through TESTA and eTrustEx, the Interoperability Unit has furnished several public administrations, companies and citizens across Europe the opporunity to exchange documents and information, garanteeing high confidentiality, sharing and reuse of IT tools, for example in the platform JoinUp. Other solutions are more focused on companies and citizens such as Open e-Prior, for e-procurement and e-invoicing, and EUSurvey, for creating, managing and analysing the results of multilingual surveys and public consultations. The use of these tools has helped Member States to reduce the time, effort and money on spent in bureaucratic procedures across Europe.
Our main goal is to see all NIFs aligned with the European one by 2020. To be continued!