Skirting bureaucracy: home users still shy, but firms eager

The more the Internet becomes a part of our lives, the more necessary it is to conduct transactions with public services through this electronic means. Although there is high demand for Internet services from both citizens and enterprises, only 8 percent of the general public actually transact with public services over the Internet; Greece actually has the lowest percentage of all its European partners. According to a Eurostat survey, the only country lagging behind Greece is Turkey. Finland and Luxembourg have the highest percentages out of all the Europeans for transactions conducted electronically with public services (45 percent) followed closely by the Danes (44 percent), Swedes (39 percent) and Norwegians (37 percent). At the bottom come the Portuguese, Polish and Slovenes at 13 percent, Cypriots at 11 percent and the Lithuanians at 10 percent. Means of information Only 7.2 percent of Greeks obtain information on state organizations or services from a website (last in the EU) whereas the European average (EU 25) is 22.1 percent. In Finland the figure is 43.3 percent, in Denmark 42.5 percent and in Norway 37.3 percent. The Portuguese and Lithuanians also have low rates, at 10.3 percent and 8.9 percent respectively. However, the Portuguese have made considerable progress over the last two years: in 2002 only 3.1 percent of the population obtained information about a state organization from the Internet when the corresponding figure for Greece was a touch higher at 3.5 percent; in 2004 the Portuguese overtook Greece with an impressive 10.3 percent while Greece’s figure rose only slightly, to 7.2 percent. Just 2.8 percent of Greeks downloaded applications from state services on the Internet in 2004, as against the European average of 10 percent (EU 25). This facility is used most by the inhabitants of Luxembourg (28.8 percent), Sweden (20.2 percent) and Denmark (16.4 percent). Only 2.4 percent of Greeks sent completed applications via the Internet, while the figure for Luxembourg was 21 percent and for Denmark 14 percent. Just over 11 percent of Swedes sent completed forms, while a mere 4 percent of Hungarians and just 2.9 percent of Slovenians did (the European average is 5.8 percent). After Greece come the Cypriots with 1.4 percent – the same percentage as the Turks. On the other hand, demand by corporations for electronic transactions with the public sector has grown. According to the data available, 77 percent of Greek companies employing over 10 people conducted transactions with the public sector via the Internet; this is actually a high percentage in comparison to other European countries (the European average is 52 percent). It seems that the only way to get around the stifling Greek bureaucracy is by using the Internet. Sweden and Finland, however, lead the way (at 92 and 91 percent respectively) as regards corporate transactions conducted or attempted electronically with the public sector. The corresponding figure for German businesses is just 36 percent, for Hungarian enterprises 35 percent, for Cypriot companies 33 percent; just 31 percent of Romanian businesses use it.

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