Opening Address to Samos Summit/Share PSI 2.0 Workshop

On behalf of Dr Christofilopoulou, I would like to begin with my warmest thanks and congratulations to the University of Aegean, the Share-PSI and other EU Project teams for organizing this Summit but also the 2nd International Summer School on Open and Collaborative Governance.

We are very happy to see that you have prepared a very well structured environment for cooperation and knowledge exchange and you have managed to bring together experts of really high caliber from academic institutions, administrations and enterprises worldwide.

As all of us will soon return to business as usual, be it public or private, it is important to take this opportunity to share experiences and practices, to focus on priority issues that will bring innovation, to discuss eGovernment key policies.

We are also happy to see that the topics covered this year are fully in line with some of the main inititiatives of the national e-Government Strategy which is recently ratified by the Government Council for Reform.

The e-Government Strategy of our Ministry has three strategic intervention goals.

To support this, a working team is currently drafting a binding action plan in cooperation with the public authorities that are actively engaged in e-government actions.

In this strategy, special focus is given to the Open Government initiative.

Why is that?

It is our firm belief that open government can drive a revolution and bring a reform to make our government more collaborative, accountable, and responsive to citizens.

For our Ministry, times of crisis are times of opportunities for change.

Open government can break the wall of mistrust and help the restoration or the strengthening of democracy and participation, can be a vehicle of reform and a tool for economic recovery and growth.

Our prime goal is to further enable access to public documents and data, spur innovations and ensure public services have perceptible, positive effects on people’s lives.

Data-driven products and services can stimulate growth through innovation and it is our strategic priority to turn this principle into practice.

To further unlock public sector information, we have prepared the required legislative framework to actively endorse the principle of “open by default” and make government data promptly available, in open format, governed by standards, with a view to developing an ecosystem of open, interoperable services for sharing and re-use.

Transparency is a clear means to achieve our open government policy.

The “Tranparency Programme” has been the Greek government’s flagship opengov initiative for the past 4 years. The electronic platform provides access to all government documents, decisions and public spending information, thus achieving our goal for proactive and real time transparency. We currently have at least 30.000 visits per day. Since October 2010, 4 thousand public authorities have published 12 million administrative acts and decisions on the Transparency Portal. Following our latest legislative initiative, decisions are not valid unless published on this portal.

A dynamic nationwide human network of around 4 thousand Project Task Forces, corresponding to the public entities involved, enabled the fine tuning of the public servants network of 35 users to make this happen.

This initiative has a silent but profound impact on the way officials handle their executive power. The direct accountability brought upon the administration by the radical transparency, leaves considerably less room for corruption, and exposes it easily when it takes place since any citizen and interested party enjoy full real time access to questionable decisions.

Another KEY open government initiative that we plan to enhance is the platform for public delibarations, before and after bills are taken to parliaments. This initiative raises participation by exposing openly tracking changes in legal documents as a result of citizens proposals.

OpenGov in Europe - the need for participation

As European citizens get all the more disengaged, the vision of EU is fading and euroscepticism is on the rise. It is high time for radical institutional reforms that make the EU policy-making system not just simpler, more flexible and effective, but also more open, transparent and accountable.

The open government initiative can contribute towards this goal. European institutions that play a significant role in the lives of citizens and matter to businesses like the EC the ECB and the European Parliament should be made more tranparent and accountable allowing citizens more access to information to the decision making process.

From an EU standpoint, the open government initiative contributes substantially to all three pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy: they support innovation and smart specialization, they provide the conditions for a more inclusive society and they allow us to manage our environmental and energy data for a more sustainable and human-centric growth.

More specifically open data constitute a key source of growth and an integral component for any policy that aims to place the country within a Global Value Chain (GVC) with reasonable chances to achieve growth without sacrificing social inclusion or environmental concerns.

The Data Economy

Open Government policies, in tandem with the Commission's effort to generate value through re-use of government data, provides the foundation for a new type of growth: Growth based on increased competitiveness and productivity, not through the lowering of salaries but through the reduction of transaction costs; through innovative solutions; through investment in human capital.

The potential benefits of the Data Economy are well documented. Open Data will reportedly lead to economic benefits of up to € 40 billion a year in the EU and Open Data can help unlock $3-5 trillion in 7 sectors ($900 billion for Europe).

From an institutional perspective, the access to information regime needs to be reconceptualised: shifting from conventional access to documents, to the free use and re-use of public sector data. The Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI Directive) is an encouraging step forward. In order to be fully implemented though, and have the desired result, it needs to be coupled with necessary structural, organizational and procedural guarantees, which will ensure the realization of citizens’ rights: National and Pan-European portals designed specifically to host government’s datasets; open access by default; compelling reasons and full justification when access is denied; mandatory timelines for response, to name but a few.

We believe that the Greek open government policy will bring us to a next day which is led by the citizen, the community and the entrepreneur; one of sustainable development, inclusion and civic innovation;
And –most importantly- one of trust - Because to open is to trust

On behalf of the deputy Minister Dr Evy Christofilopoulou, I would like to wish the 5th Samos Summit the greatest success in meeting the challenging objectives set. I hope we all enjoy the cooperation starting this morning in Samos.

Thank you