Government Enterprise Architecture (GEA) In the European context has two major levels:
- Each country’s own National GEA practice
- European GEA practice
Strictly speaking, the European practice has not been called Enterprise Architecture per se, but was and is in all but name a Government Enterprise Architecture practice (“EA by stealth”).
It became the theme interoperability that caught the attention of the European Commission, who defines interoperability as the facilitation of cross-border and cross-sector information exchange, taking into account legal, organisational, semantic and technical aspects (source).
From IDA to ISA2
The Inter-Change of Data Between Administrations programme (IDA) was launched in 1995 and later became the Interoperable Delivery of European eGovernment Services to public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens programme (IDABC), which offered funding of some €25 million per year from 2004-2009 for various pan-European interoperability projects. One of these projects formulated the European Interoperability Framework v1, published in 2004, which provides recommendations and defines generic standards with regard to organizational, semantic and technical aspects of interoperability, offering a comprehensive set of principles for European cooperation in eGovernment. The framework was accompanied by the IDA Architecture Guidelines. Updated in 2010, the framework (now European Interoperability Framework v2) became part of the European Interoperability Strategy.
For continued work on European interoperability, a new programme was established in 2010: The ISA Programme, Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations:
Public administrations are expected to provide efficient public services to businesses and citizens across Europe. ISA, the programme on Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations, addresses this need. ISA supports and facilitates efficient and effective cross-border electronic collaboration between European public administrations. The programme enables the delivery of electronic public services and ensures the availability, interoperability, re-use and sharing of common solutions (source).
With a budget of €164 million for the period from 2010-2015, the ISA programme has established a number of action areas.
The ISA action on Interoperability architecture studies the possibility of structuring European public information systems and services around a joint architectural blueprint. This action develops together with the Member States and the relevant European Commission departments a joint vision for an Interoperability Architecture for European public services. This involves outlining its scope, deciding how the architectural building blocks will fit together, and determining the need for interface standards between such building blocks, tools and services that can be reused across borders and sectors, such as the following:
- a multilingual service, CIRCABC provides private workspaces for collaborative groups to share information and documentation;
- a Machine translation service can be used by European public administrations to facilitate efficient and effective electronic cross-border interaction;
- the sTesta project provides a secure private European network for data exchange between all the EU Institutions and national networks.
ISA has further supported the development of interoperability-related recommendations for the assessment of standards and specifications used by Member States when acquiring electronic tools and services. The aim to create not only more interoperable information systems but also more efficient use of public funds via sharing and reuse of completed assessments among eGovernment projects. The National Interoperability Framework Observatory tries to help in the sharing, and collects/creates informative Member State Factsheets.
On 26 June 2014, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a programme on interoperability solutions for European public administrations, businesses and citizens (ISA2). The proposal will now be transmitted to the Council and the European Parliament. Once adopted by these, it will be implemented by the European Commission based on proposals submitted by the Member States and the Commission services. ISA2 will cover the period 2016-2020 with a financial envelope of €131 million.
- Conceptual Reference Architecture. This involves defining conceptual reference building blocks that are needed in order to build systems supporting public services. A conceptual reference architecture captures the fundamental patterns and concepts that should be applicable for all domains and more specific architectures.
- Cartography. This involves mapping existing reusable solutions towards the conceptual reference building blocks. The cartography is meant to include solutions that are readily reusable.