Over the next few years, the EUs Digital Single Market will make it easier for corporations and public authorities to work on an international level. Through 2020, the EU will invest EUR 970 million in a series of digitalization projects, including the new digital infrastructure, CEF eDelivery. This new infrastructure is designed to make the European member states connect in a whole new way. This will happen through reliable, open standards for electronic services such as document exchange, health data, electronic invoicing, and public tendering processes.
“Through this investment, the EU is in fact raising the bar for the digital infrastructure; and this is simply because EU finds this area to be as important as the infrastructure for roads, energy supply, and telecommunication. The EU is taking this step in recognition of the fact that authorities and businesses are increasing their presence on the international market, and are therefore in need of common standards for data exchange,” explains Ulrik Falkner Thagesen, e-Boks CEO.
Based on open source
e-Boks decided to integrate the CEF eDelivery into its platform, in connection with the tendering process for the next generation of Digital Post in Denmark (mandated public solution for secure digital mail between public authorities and business and citizens).
“The support for CEF eDelivery was an option in the invitation to tender for the next generation of Digital Post. However, we also want to future-proof our products to all our users by integrating this new infrastructure, and offer many new types of documents for them to use. The CEF is based on publicly available, open source components. This allows for data exchange across the borders, and provides better and cheaper services to new customers and their documents,” explains Ulrik Falkner Thagesen.
An attractive alternative
Today, suppliers of services to the public authorities can freely choose how to define the protocols to be used for data exchange. As an example, a provider of IT systems to the health sector can set its own price for sending prescriptions between a doctor and a pharmacy. The same goes for a provider of procurement systems or electronic invoicing. The price for a transaction can be as high as DKK 5, and possibly even higher if you consider subscription costs. And given that many public authorities perform millions of these transactions year after year, e-Boks is convinced that the open EU standards will constitute an attractive alternative for many authorities and customers.
“With the introduction of CEF eDelivery, many IT providers are still allowed to charge for the connection to the system. However, the market price for the data exchange among IT providers and across the borders is very likely to fall to a tenth of its current market price level. That will make a huge difference to any organization operating on an international scale,” concludes Ulrik Falkner Thagesen.
EU: Important support
In the years to come, many service providers are expected to switch to the CEF infrastructure. An average provider likely has between 1,000 and 1,500 users, but in one single click, e-Boks can connect almost 15 million users to the EU infrastructure. “The support from actors of this magnitude is vital to the deployment of CEF,” says Joao Rodrigues Frade, Head of Sector, Digital Building Blocks for Trans European Systems at the European Commission.
“The fact that a major provider like e-Boks has decided to deploy the CEF eDelivery infrastructure goes to show how fast things can progress when organizations join forces and commit to market-driven standards that benefit users and their possibility to perform data exchange. The Commission looks forward to following this progress and we are ready to help corporations and public authorities with technical support, financing, and dedicated onboarding,” he states.
FACTS on CEF integration by e-Boks:
- For the time being, the national solutions dominate the digital services in the European member states.
- EU estimates that the lack of common European standards impede the trade and cross-border cooperation among authorities. The European Commission has therefore decided to launch a number of new digital building blocks and exchange standards under the title Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
- EU supports the new standards by introducing legislation on their use to ensure that the CEF eDelivery standards meet the requirements of eIDAS (the EU directive on digital identification).
- CEF contains a number of building blocks that among others can be used for user identification (CEF eID), translation (CEF eTranslation), invoicing (CEF eInvoice), digital signatures (CEF eSignature), and secure document exchange (CEF eDelivery).
- Each CEF component consists of a bundle of open, documented technical specifications, services or software that can be reused in different areas.
- Future public IT systems are expected to support and reuse the CEF digital building blocks to a much larger scale.
- e-Boks will integrate the CEF eDelivery infrastructure as of end 2018. That means that documents sent via e-Boks can be exchanged with all other systems linked to CEF eDelivery as of medio 2019, and can be exchanged across EU borders without additional transaction costs.
- With the integration, e-Boks will link its 15 million EU citizens, authorities, and corporations on CEF eDelivery.