Does the European Union have a legal basis to act on eGovernment initiatives?

Several speakers at the IDABC Conference (17-18 February 2005) highlighted a missing piece of the eGovernment puzzle in Europe: although national administrations have wide and diverging mandates to act ion the field of eGovernment (whether it be on eService certification, electronic identity management, online public procurement, data standards or whatever), it is not so clear what scope for action there is at an EU level.
Although the European Commission is heavily involved in initiatives and projects to promote so-called “pan European services”, the legal basis for action is often the particular policy sector concerned (health care, social security, cross-border company registration, etc) rather than any over-arching eGovernment initiative.
Furthermore, many administrations still do not consider eGovernment as a “noble art” worthy of the attention of senior civil servants, considering its issues as merely technology and engineering concerns.
There are indications that the European Commission and related authorities are starting to address this and uit will certainly be an issue that I intend to bring to the table during the work of the recently established “eGovernment Focus Group” of the European standards committee, CEN.

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