European Commission (EC)
The EC is a supranational body of the EU with, amongst other things, the sole right (= sole right of initiative) to submit new legislative proposals to the two legislators (Council and EP) for adoption.
It has representations/field offices in all 28 EU Member States. The Commission consists of the College of Commissioners from the 28 Member States, including the President (Jean-Claude Juncker) and the seven Vice-Presidents. The 28 Commissioners decide within the framework of the so-called Commission College; it makes joint decisions on the political and strategic direction of the Commission. The college is re-named every five years.
The seat of the EC is in Brussels (some offices have been set up in Luxembourg). Since 2012, EU citizens (in addition to Council, EP, European Council or Member States) have been able to call on the EC to take action, and so the European Citizens' Initiative was created.
The members of the EC are nominated by the Member States and confirmed by the EP. Similar to the national division of responsibilities, the EC is divided into so-called Directorates-General (DGs), where the competences of one Commissioner may cover more than thirty DGs.
Concerning eGovernment, the EC focuses mainly, but not exclusively, on DG CNET (DG Communication Networks, Content and Technologies), DG DIGIT (DG Data Processing) and DG GROW (DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs). All EC projects are undergoing a process involving the involvement of experts and high-level representatives from the Member States. Over time, an almost unmanageable number of groupings has been established.
The following groups are particularly interesting in the context of digitalisation:
- Strategy Group Digital Single Market (formerly High Level Group Digital Agenda): Advisory Forum composed of senior representatives of Member States to implement the Digital Agenda for Europe (in German) and the Digital Single Market Strategy (DSM).
- Steering Committee for the eGovernment Action Plan (formerly eGovernment Group): Advisory and coordination body consisting of the representatives responsible for national eGovernment strategies. The eGovernment Action Plan is intended to be used as a political tool to accelerate administrative modernisation in the EU, in particular to remove barriers to the digital single market and prevent further fragmentation of public administrations.
The action plan defines the following political priorities:
- Modernising public administration through ICT based on key digital enabling technologies (actions 1-6)
- Cross-border mobility through interoperable digital public services (actions 7-17)
- Simplifying the digital interaction between public authorities and citizens and businesses for quality public services (actions 18-20)
The EC has been increasingly involved in the development of the "information society" since the 1980s. Various initiatives and programs have been developed and adapted over time (eEurope 2002, eEurope 2005, i2010, Digital Agenda for Europe, Digital Single Market).
Under the "Juncker Commission" (= new EC under President Juncker), the countless tasks were bundled and a "project team" was assigned to each of the seven Vice Presidents. These project teams should manage and coordinate the work of several commissioners. The thematic complexes are:
- Jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness
- Digital Single Market (EC-VP Andrus ANSIP)
- Energy Union and Climate Protection
- Household and staff
- Euro and social dialogue
- Foreign and Security Policy
- Better regulation, interinstitutional relations and rule of law