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Political Environment as Context for New Models of Collaboration

The cases we studied fit into a overall national and regional efforts to streamline government and move toward innovative partnership models involving the use of technology deliver of public services. US, Canadian, and European policies share similar goals but differ somewhat in method and extent of implementation.
European Union (EU)
European policies and activities are the most advanced of the three. The European Council has made pan-European e-government initiatives a top priority for improving the delivery of public services to EU citizens and businesses. The stated goal of the "eEurope initiative," approved at the June 2002 European Council meeting in Seville, is to provide interactive government services throughout the European Union. The European Commission is to issue an interoperability framework to support the initiate by the end of 2003. Interoperability is sought within and between public agencies at the European, national, regional, and local levels; as well as with the private sector. The European Commission defines interoperability as "not simply a technical issue concerned with linking up computer networks. It goes beyond this to include the sharing of information between networks and the re-organization of administrative processes to support the seamless delivery of e-government services" (Commission Staff Working Document D2 414 DT: Linking Up Europe, 2003). Therefore, the eEurope initiative involves the development of new models of collaboration on a scale never seen before. eEurope aims at achieving "a modern European administration through electronic cooperation between different levels of government and across national borders" (Ministerial Declaration, Italian Presidency of the Council, 2003, p.1).

The eEurope 2005 Action Plan calls for the study of member states' electronic government projects achieved through collaboration within and between levels of administration and with the public sector. The Bremen Online Services case study is an example of a member state initiative that involves collaboration between local governments to achieve an improved public service delivery. In addition, specific attention is devoted to EU-wide electronic services in the domain of job search and learning opportunities which are considered as "examples of pan-European services to be diffused and extended to other fields" (Ministerial Declaration, Italian Presidency of the Council, 2003, p.3). The Belgium case study is an example of such an initiative in the domain of job search. The portal has been enhanced by partnerships with several employment agencies in Europe to allow the citizen to expand its job search.