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EEMA – the European Forum for Electronic Business

EEMA outlines plans for e-Government development at annual conference in Paris

The launch and first meeting of the e-Government and public sector interest group took place last week in Paris at ‘EEMA 2001’, the 14th Annual Conference hosted by EEMA, the European Forum for Electronic Business.

The meeting, chaired by Nigel Hickson from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was attended by over 30 organisations, including representatives from the Hungarian Prime Ministers Office, the European Commission, the Office of the UK e-Envoy, NHS, BT, Consignia and the UK National Audit Office. ICT vendors, users, organisations and consultants with a shared interest in e-Government were also involved.

“In the e-business field, Governments play a significant role, both in terms of delivering services to the citizen and business, and as policy makers” said Nigel Hickson. “While many business groups have rightly been focusing on the e-business agenda and the policy and technological issues connected with that, less attention has been paid to the needs of the public sector” he continued. “The rationale behind EEMA’s new e-Government and public sector interest group is for the business community to establish and understand European Government requirements and the barriers hindering deployment of e-Commerce within each European state. Only then can we begin to address these issues and develop solutions to facilitate the deployment of e-commerce within the public sector. The initial meeting set out to establish exactly how we could achieve this and other objectives”.

The importance of harmonising the various European Government bodies in the areas of trust, security and legal issues was felt to be of prime concern to all involved, together with helping Governments advance their plans for working electronically both with the citizen and within the public sector itself. It was agreed that the interest group would work on a project to do this, incorporating the work already carried out through some of the other EEMA interest groups in conjunction with the European Electronic Signature Standardisation Initiative (EESSI).At the meeting it was agreed that European Government departments would be formerly invited to voice their e-Business requirements and concerns to the interest group to enable solutions to be investigated and proposed on a European level.

The area of PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) was discussed in length, and it was concluded that all European Governments need to be made aware of the various projects throughout the world looking at PKI interoperability issues. Paul Briault from the UK e-Envoy office said , “There is a tremendous amount of work going on at the moment surrounding PKI interoperability issues, which is an area of great importance to Government. For example, the CESG in the UK is about to embark upon stage two of an interoperability project, EEMA is leading the European Commission-funded pki Challenge, and working closely with the PKI Forum in the USA who are also looking at various aspects of PKI interoperability. Although we realise that PKI is only one factor affecting security, and that interoperability is only one part of PKI, the dissemination of the results of these important initiatives must be communicated to the Government bodies throughout Europe so they can clearly understand the problems and how they can be resolved”. This was the third action point arising from the initial meeting of EEMA’s e-Government and Public Sector Interest Group Meeting.

Charles Lowe, an EEMA Board Member and consultant specialising in e-Government and e-Business issues, who formerly set up, BT’s e-Government initiative commented, “EEMA’s vendor-neutral, European perspective on all aspects of e-Business lends itself perfectly as the vehicle to manage this interest group. Many of the issues already being explored by EEMA are very relevant to the discussions we are having in the e-Government arena. By pooling the resources of EEMA and the enthusiasm and expertise of all those involved in the interest group, we are poised to produce some extremely valuable work which will be instrumental in addressing the defined needs of the public sector throughout Europe”.

Anyone interested in finding out more about EEMA’s e-Government and Public Sector interest group can contact EEMA at or


About EEMA

EEMA - the European forum for electronic business - was founded in 1987 and is the leading European not-for-profit e-Business association with the aim of pushing forward the boundaries of e-commerce, technology and legislation.

Its numerous interest groups, workshops, seminars and conferences each specialise in areas of current concern, to educate and inform EEMA Members on latest developments and technologies, at the same time enabling members of the association to compare views and ideas.
EEMA works closely with governmental bodies, standards organisations and e-Business initiatives throughout Europe and is an instrumental force in moving European business towards working electronically. Visit or contact

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