Ministers' Deputies
    Notes on the Agenda

    CM/Notes/873/1.6 12 February 2004

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    873 Meeting, 18 February 2004
    1 General questions


    1.6 Integrated Project I: Making democratic institutions work -

    Draft Recommendation on electronic governance (“e-governance”)

    Reference documents
    CM/Del/Dec(2003)866/1.1, (2004)870/1.1 and CM(2003)87 final

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    Action

    To take note of the procedure envisaged for the drafting of a CM Recommendation on e-governance and approve the draft specific terms of reference for an Ad Hoc Inter-sectoral Group of Specialists on electronic governance (IP1-S-EG).

    1. The Integrated project “Making democratic institutions work” (IP1) identified, in 2002, electronic governance as a theme of cross-sectoral interest with a great potential for transversal co-operation.
    The term 'e-governance' describes the set of technology-mediated processes that are changing both the interactions between citizens and governments and the delivery of public services. As part of a broader effort to modernise their institutions and enhance public participation in democratic processes, governments across Europe increasingly engage in e-governance initiatives.

    2. In conformity with its mandate for exploring new themes in the field of democracy, IP1 included an activity on e-governance in its 2002 activity programme. It held, in June 2002, an agenda-setting workshop which was attended by participants from several Council of Europe sectors, representatives of civil society, and academics.

    3. The Committee of Ministers declared its intention to adopt guidelines on e-governance in its Political Message to the World Summit on the Information Society [CM(2003)87 final, 24 June 2003], thereby confirming the significance of this theme for Council of Europe's work in the field of democracy. In 2003, IP1 convened another two meetings to explore the issue with governmental representatives and Secretariat members of the following Steering Committees (or certain of their subordinate structures): CDLR, CDMM, CDCJ, CD-Cult, CDCS, as well as representatives of CLRAE.

    4. The existing work from the above-mentioned steering committees, additional research and the discussions at the preparatory meetings brought together the growing body of experience and knowledge with regard to e-governance that is already available in member states. On that basis, the IP1 Secretariat prepared successive draft guidelines on e-governance, based on work - completed or in progress - by all relevant Council of Europe sectors. The draft guidelines were further refinded during the above-mentioned preparatory meetings and communicated to the relevant Steering Committees for opinion.

    5. Considering the importance of an integrated approach to the development and implementation of e-governance strategies in member States, those Steering Committees which were contemplating their own draft Recommendations on specific aspects of e-governance, declared interest in joining efforts to prepare a single draft Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on electronic governance. Such an approach would avoid the multiplication of recommendations on narrower aspects of e-governance, and make it possible to prepare a text which is comprehensive and multi-disciplinary.

    6. The task of preparing a draft Recommendation would be entrusted to an Ad hoc Inter-sectoral Group of Specialists, including governmental and Secretariat representatives of those Steering Committees that have already been involved in the exploratory work. The Steering Committees in question would be invited to examine and eventually approve the draft Recommendation. Member states are being kept informed of the progress made through the reports of the Ad hoc Inter-Sectoral Group of Specialists and the Steering Committees involved. Member states that wish to send a representative to meetings of the Ad-hoc inter-sectoral group of specialists may do so, without defrayal of expenses.

    7. The draft Recommendation would specify the conditions under which the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can offer real benefits for democracy, policy-making and the delivery of public services and suggest ways of avoiding potential pitfalls. More specifically, the draft Recommendation would raise awareness of the possible scope of and provide guidance to governments on appropriate solutions with regard to the development of e-governance strategies at national, regional and local level.

    8. In its final activity report, the Ad Hoc Inter-sectoral Group of Specialists on e-governance would make proposals for the development of an on-line self-evaluation tool which would enable public bodies that are implementing e-governance to check, in an anonymous and confidential way, their own performance against the guidelines in the CM Recommendation on e-governance.

    9. The final activity report of the Group would also include an evaluation of the value of the chosen working method for developing instruments on broad transversal themes which go beyond the sectoral remit of existing intergovernmental committees.

    10. In the light of the above, the Secretariat of the Integrated project “Making democratic institutions work” seeks the Committee of Ministers' approval of the draft terms of reference for an Ad Hoc Inter-sectoral Group of Specialists on e-governance which would prepare the draft Recommendation on behalf of the Steering Committees involved with the assistance of the Secretariat of IP 1.

    11. This item was on the agenda of the 866th and 870th meetings (17 December 2003, item 1.5, and 4 February 2004, item 1.6) of the Deputies, but was postponed at the request first of one delegation and then of another delegation. At the 870th meeting, the delegation of the United Kingdom circulated a document proposing that the following text be included at the end of the first sentence of paragraph 4 of the terms of reference contained in the Appendix to these Notes:

    “where such strategies aim to

    a. strengthen democratic institutions at all levels by making them more open, transparent, accountable and responsive;

    b. provide opportunities for all to participate in decision-making, thereby contributing to a more dynamic, inclusive democracy;

    c. improve public services by making them more accessible, people-centred, efficient and cost-effective and thus contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of European societies.”

    Financing assured: YES

    DRAFT DECISION

    873rd meeting – 18 February 2003

    Item 1.6

    Integrated Project I: Making democratic institutions work –
    Draft Recommendation on electronic governance (“e-governance”)
    (CM/Del/Dec(2003)866/1.1, (2004)870/1.1, CM(2003)87 final)

    Decision

    The Deputies approved the specific terms of reference of an Ad Hoc Inter-sectoral Group of Specialists on e-governance (IP1-S-EG) as it appears at Appendix .. to the present volume of Decisions (see Appendix to the present Notes).

    Appendix

    Draft Specific terms of reference

    1. Name of committee:

    Ad Hoc Inter-sectoral Group of Specialists on e-governance (IP1-S-EG)

    2. Type of committee:

    Ad Hoc Inter-sectoral Group of Specialists

    3. Source of terms of reference:

    Committee of Ministers

    4. Terms of reference:

    The task of the Committee is to prepare a draft Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states that would raise awareness of the possible scope of and provide guidance on appropriate solutions to governments with regard to the development of e-governance strategies at national, regional and local level.

    The Committee is also asked to consider and make proposals for further work, particularly for the maintenance and enhancement of the guidelines included in the Recommendation.

    5. Membership of the committee:

    a. The following Council of Europe Steering committees are invited to nominate up to two representatives to the Ad Hoc Inter-sectoral Group of Specialists on e-governance: CDLR, CDMM, CDCJ, CDCS, CD-Cult, CDED. The Liaison Committee of INGOs enjoying participatory status with the Council of Europe may also nominate a representative.

    The Council of Europe's budget bears travelling and subsistence expenses up to two representatives of the above Steering Committees and one representative of the Liaison Committee of INGOs. Other representatives of Steering Committees may attend meetings of the Committee, without any defrayal of expenses by the Council of Europe.

    b. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), and the Council for Democratic Elections may appoint representatives to meetings of the Committee, without defrayal of expenses.

    c. The European Commission and the European Parliament may appoint representatives to meetings of the Committee, without defrayal of expenses.

    d. Council of Europe member States, observer states to the Council of Europe, and applicant states for Council of Europe membership may send a representative without defrayal of expenses to meetings of the Committee.

    e. The Committee may also, where practical, organise exchanges of view with other Council of Europe bodies.

    f. Council of Europe Partial Agreements may appoint representatives to meetings of the Committee, without defrayal of expenses, in particular the following: CD-P-RR ( Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with Disabilities (Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field)), European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission).

    6. Working structures and methods:

    The Committee may invite other interested parties in addition to those mentioned above to participate in its meetings and have recourse, where appropriate, to the services of external consultants.

    The Committee may use teleconference or videoconference facilities where practical.

    7. Duration:

    These terms of reference shall end on 31 December 2004.



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