The EU's Use of the Internet

The EU's Use of the Internet

J. Shahin (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Danish Technological Institute, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch118
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Abstract

The European Union (EU) has been one of the leading lights concerning Internet use in dealing with other public administrations and citizens. This article will argue that e-government has meant that the European Commission has been able to promote a virtual arena for pan-European activity, which has promoted action at the national and local levels in the EU. In the first instance, this article will deal with how the European Commission uses the Internet to attempt to improve its own relationship with both national public administrations and citizens in terms of the European policy-making process. Although the Internet is perceived as aiding public administrations in information and service provision, which helps to deliver better governance from an institutional governance perspective, a focus on this would only tell one half of the story. Increasing democratic participation and regaining trust in the political system at large is also an important issue for public bodies such as the European Commission to address, and this is not merely a technical process. These technical (efficiency, etc.) and democratic stages are two key parts in the process of developing an information and communication technology (ICT)-based governance agenda in the EU. In order to outline the process, this article deals with four different aspects of the European Commission’s e-policies. It makes reference to the following: 1. The Commission’s information provision, through the EU’s Europa (II) Web server; 2. The way in which the Commission has tried to interact with citizens, using interactive policy making (IPM); 3. The e Commission initiative; and 4. The way in which the Commission links member-state public administrations together, through the IDA(BC) programme. This article reveals the increasing coherence of the European Commission’s approach to using the Internet in institutional affairs. Although the Commission’s approach to using the Internet for governance was initially unstable and ad hoc, by the turn of the century, all efforts had converged around the political issues of institutional reform and better governance. This has been further enhanced by the application of the open method of coordination as one of the tools of EU governance, which has enabled the Commission to take a more informal role in implementing e-government strategies at the pan-European level. This article does not attempt to define e-government at the European level nor does it go into policy areas concerning e-government (such as research, socioeconomic inclusion, improving competitiveness, or specific e-government policy developed by the European Commission), but will contribute to a greater understanding of how the EU itself has used the Internet to promote an e-government agenda that is affecting all public administrations.

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