The Digital European Parliament: ICT challenges for the MEP of the future

26 January 2011 Author: EIFonline

New technological developments are spreading at an astonishing speed, and the European Parliament aims to keep up with the pace. The Bureau of the European Parliament has been reflecting on the impact of ICTs on the current and future work of this Institution and of the MEPs. Recently the European Parliament adopted a future oriented ICT strategy called MEP 2025.

The main pillars of this strategy are mobility, interoperatibility and connectivity for MEPs in their daily work.

In this EIF Breakfast, MEP Mr. Rainer Wieland was looking for an open discussion to reflect on the long-term needs of a 'digital' European Parliament and the needs of its (wide variety) of stakeholders.

Part of the debate centered on the amount of openness of a 'digital' European Parliament. How much openness do we need? There was a plea for a balance between being open and transparent on the one hand, and also allowing the European Parliament to have private meetings to reflect on certain matters more freely. Streaming everything and anything might be too much of a good thing and might not be in the general interest.

One of the other issues for such a large organisation as the European Parliament is how to effectively organise document processing and content management to reduce the carbon footprint of the Institution. Although it is a good idea to make processes more efficient by creating less paper, one also has to consider such things as the security and integrity of materials. For instance, who has access to the list of tabled amendments and who has the rights to edit them? How secure would such a system be?

There was also a plea from the floor for making the work of the European Parliament more visible towards citizens, to use modern communication technology, especially audiovisual technology (video), to enhance the link with citizens. It was stressed that simply relying on having a European Parliament website would most likely not be able to fulfill this goal by itself.

Other suggestions that were made focused on good educational programs for the new ICT developments, to ensure that everybody has equal opportunities in using the new 'digital ways' of the Parliament. Mr. Wieland also mentioned that he would like to see a broader understanding of what Members of the European Parliament undertake on the job. He advocated creating a program that would aime to create a better understanding of what MEPs do on a daily basis.

To conclude, Mr Wieland emphasized that he believes the Internet is only an instrument and that the instrument cannot replace content. Some of the big questions in response to MEP 2025 must focus on this particular issue. The digital European Parliament still has many questions to consider.


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