2007 saw yet another decline in the number of companies set up in Germany. Yet there would likely be many more small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) if it wasn’t for the inordinate amount of red tape involved in setting up a business. The necessity of dealing with multiple administrative tasks and multiple contact persons means that the road to becoming an entrepreneur is an arduous, uphill one.
The EU Services Directive is designed to enable enterprises to offer their services within the European Community faster and more easily than before – thanks to rapid cross-border approval procedures and improved collaboration between the administrative authorities in the various Member States.
Authorities all over Europe are now required to accept applications online. They must also ensure that a standard contact person is available for each service provider to coordinate their applications and answer any questions that arise.
Current situation: multiple applications, multiple authorities
Take the example of somebody wishing to open a restaurant: Before a restaurant owner in Germany can start serving beer, he or she has to obtain scores of authorizations and submit a host of applications for, among other things:
- a business registration card (issued by the city hall or municipality)
- a certificate of good conduct (issued by the Federal Department of Justice)
- registration of a business (handled by the local authority)
- a license to sell alcoholic beverages (issued by the department of public order)
- an entry in the commercial register (processed by the municipal court)
- proof of competence (issued by the chamber of industry and commerce)
- a tax clearance certificate and a tax number (obtained from the finance office)
- residence permits for any non-German employees (issued by the aliens department); work permits must be obtained from the employment office
- if applicable, a rebuilding authorization from the building supervisory board.
The bureaucratic hurdles to setting up a business are similar in other countries within the European Union.
Thus, the new EU Services Directive will be a major relief to service providers, who will be able to benefit from filing applications online and dealing with just one contact person.
Roadmap defines steps
Lead-managed by SAP, EICTA (the European Information and Information Technology Industry Association) has developed a roadmap for the gradual implementation of the EU Services Directive. The competent task force is led by Andreas Tegge from SAP Government Relations Europe.
The roadmap contains precise recommendations for the pragmatic implementation of the Directive’s legal IT specifications by the end of 2009. It also proposes additional IT investments that are designed to ”lead to a significant improvement in the processes for both service providers and the authorities involved,” says Tegge. An improvement, he adds, that is also consistent with the directive’s ultimate goal.
Within the European Commission, this roadmap serves as a reference for implementing the EU Services Directive.
Solution: central, electronic handling
The technically flexible and expandable SAP solution is based on the SAP NetWeaver technology platform and an enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA). The software is therefore equipped to incorporate any legal or organizational changes that may be required in the future. The SAP software provides:
- a portal solution for easy application filing and data exchange between the business operator, the standard contact person, and the authorities involved
- multichannel communication by e-mail, telephone or fax
- flexible electronic compilation of processes
- case management to support processing between all the parties involved – without media discontinuity.
SAP software thus allows authorities all over Europe to make application processes user-friendly and free of media breaks, and, as such, compliant with the EU Services Directive. At the same time, officials working for government authorities benefit from customer-focused case management that allows them to check the current status of applications and to initiate follow-up action at any time.
This end-to-end application process will prepare the ground for further customer-oriented online services in the future.
Success factor: partnership with SAP Research
Instrumental in the rapid development of an SAP prototype for complying with the EU Services Directive was the involvement of SAP Research in the Theseus research project and the EU-sponsored SUPER and PICTURE projects. The goal of these projects is to create a knowledge- and IT-based service economy (Internet of Services) that provides users with simple access to the information and services they need via new semantic infrastructures (Web 3.0). At the same time, enterprises benefit from rapid and targeted communication with both administrative authorities and customers, and thus from a heightened ability to respond promptly to market shifts.
Last December, during the second national IT summit in Hannover, Henning Kagermann, co-CEO of SAP AG, presented a citizens’ portal developed by SAP Research and entitled “The self-registering baby”. This portal links up various administrative and private services – from registering newborns, to taking out insurance, to making appointments for preventive medical checks.