Spanish E-government Highly Rated
Spanish E-government Highly Rated
The European Commission has rated the Spanish government as the sixth most advanced in Europe, following its analysis of the online presence of public administrations in 18 European countries including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
Through the e-Europe Programme, the European Commission analyzed the development of electronic communications and technology in the governments of EAA member states. The use of broadband connections by all governments by 2005 (when online relationships are expected to reach maturity) is considered to be essential for the further development of the information society and e-government.
Between April and October 2002 the Spanish government improved its internet services. Although e-government in Spain is at an advanced stage, experts have outlined the need for higher quality and greater profitability in connection with its provision of online services.
A conference recently held in Seville identified four criticisms of Spain's e-government development:
- Access to services is limited. This is complicated by the absence of information and the limited variety of content and formats available. The introduction of the Internet into Spanish homes should be encouraged in order to increase the use of online services;
- Citizens are not considered as clients, which means that their preferences and profiles are not taken into account;
- There is no common strategy on the integration of services provided by different government agencies; and
- The experience accumulated by private companies in this field has not been utilized.
Another key element that will improve the availability of e-government services is security. As online security improves, more services may be provided electronically. People are currently reluctant to use some electronic services because they are not confident about the security of their personal data. This is compounded by the fact that relationships with the government require individuals to be properly identified.
The Royal Decree on Electronic Signatures was issued in 1999. Spain was one of the first countries to regulate the use of electronic signatures, giving them the same value as handwritten signatures as long as they meet certain conditions. An electronic signature is valid if it has been issued by an authorized certification service provider. The decree establishes the conditions, validity and equivalency of recognized certificates, as well as regulating certification service providers.
The Spanish authorities have undertaken a review of the decree to keep it up to date with the latest technological developments, and to solve any problems in the application of the present legislation. The new law will also govern the regulation of electronic national identity documents, a measure that will enhance the use of the Internet as a way to conduct official transactions.
Some of the most advanced services provided online by the Spanish government are offered by the tax authorities. Their websites gather useful information, but more importantly Spanish citizens may initiate transactions and submit direct questions to the tax agencies.
For further information on this topic please contact Rafael Aguilera or Grisel Sayalero at Gómez-Acebo & Pombo by telephone (+34 91 582 91 00) or by fax (+34 91 582 91 21) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).