We take services that work the same way all over Europe for granted, such as withdrawing cash from any ATM in the euro zone and easily transferring money between European bank accounts. These services are the result of major interoperability projects and, as European citizens working towards closer integration, we should probably be using and requesting more and innovative cross-border services.

Earlier this month, the European Commission organized the ISA2 conference to mark the continuation of the ISA programme (Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations) until 2020. It is designed to drive electronic collaboration between cross-border services for European citizens and businesses. The conference showed that despite success in certain areas, there is still a long way to go before achieving an interoperable, open Europe.

Intensely working on interoperability

All the speakers made passionate cases for the need to be interoperable in an increasingly connected Europe, presenting success stories and lessons learned. Italy outlined the reuse of core vocabularies to establish a public service catalogue. Estonia talked about its extensive use of electronic signatures with partners such as Finland and Latvia. An emotional keynote speech was delivered by Japan’s representative, who shared their work on semantic interoperability developed after the country’s devastating 2011 earthquake to help correctly identify missing people.

Three main issues

But many challenges still remain and after the ISA2 conference these priorities were agreed:

  • Advances made in standards and technical solutions should be matched by commitments at the policy level. Policymakers should push for “interoperability by default”.
  • Services must be developed in a user-centric way. People and businesses in Europe need solutions that meet their needs and are user-friendly.
  • The European Commission must lead by example and ensure that interoperability between its different organisations is a key goal. This would help persuade member states to make cross-border interoperability a primary goal.

As a trusted contractor for ISA2, Trasys International is at the forefront of this effort. We are involved in key activities such as the definition and promotion of the European Interoperability Reference Architecture (EIRA) and the interoperability and conformance testing service offered by ISA2 to cross-border solution providers.

Constantinos Simatos, Senior Solution Architect