Interoperability welcomed by the European Parliament

MB – 07/2023

The European Commission has presented a proposal for a regulation governing an interoperable Europe on 18/11/2022. In simplified terms, the Latin term interoperability describes the ability to communicate with each other and to work together in a specified manner.

The digital decade

The draft regulation is intended to contribute to the "Digital Compass 2030 which has four "cardinal points", one of which is the "digitisation of public services": in the digital single market, citizens should also be able to communicate electronically with the administration. 

The framework of interoperability for the social security system

Interoperability has a direct impact on social security institutions. The aforementioned draft is related to the Regulation (EU) No. 2018/1724, also called "Single Digital Gateway" (SDG).  This single digital access gateway for EU citizens is "ready” by now.

The SDG Regulation stipulates that the digital gateway must include information and links to online procedures to enable EU citizens to exercise their rights and obligations.

The social security branches covered by the existing coordination law of Regulation (EC) No. 883/2004 are directly affected, as Annexes l & ll to the SDG Regulation identify certain core areas of the social security system (e.g. work and retirement, medical care, health and safety at work).

Furthermore, the draft refers to a proposal of the European Commission amending Regulation (EU) No. 910/2014. The objective here is the creation of a European digital identity (EUid) and the introduction of a digital wallet. In this context, the German Social Insurance (DSV) has reported on the ESSPASS.

The two aforementioned legal acts (or the draft) aim to ensure that public services are offered digitally and that "official documents" are available in the "wallet". The proposal for an interoperable Europe aims to create a legally binding coordination framework so that the EU digital single market can be achieved through joint coordination.

 What does the European Parliament think about this?

In the European Parliament, the parliamentary committees for civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE), for single market and consumer protection (IMCO) and for industry, research and energy (ITRE), among others, were busy with the draft. The Economic and Social Affairs Committee and the Committee of the Regions have also expressed their views. The result at the outset: the legal act is welcomed overall.

The lead committee was the ITRE, which finally discussed the draft on 19 July. IMCO and LIBE had positioned themselves in advance and expressed their final opinions.  ITRE and IMCO as well as the Committee of the Regions have taken the approach, among others, to emphasise the clarity of public services being referred to. The Committees' compromise version now explicitly includes definitions for "cross-border public services" and "key public services" with reference to Resolution (EU) No. 2022/2481 of 14.12.2022 on the digital decade. In Art. 2 No. 8 of the aforementioned resolution, "key public services" are defined in relation to natural persons as those which concern events in their lives which are particularly important for them. This should undoubtedly include social security. Thus, the European Parliament is ready for the trialogue.

 What about the Council?

The Council has not yet taken a position on the draft. However, the Council and the EP reached an agreement on a digital European identity on 29 June. Since the EUiD and the wallet must be thought of as being interoperable, it can be assumed that the Council will support the approach to digital coordination.