Headlines: May 29th, 1998

The drive is on across Europe to raise standards of public service. Initiatives to bring improvements include better access to information in Austria through hotlines, reducing contact points in Spain through a one stop counters and in Italy with the conference of services. The UK is piloting a single electronic form for advising departments about business start-ups.A meeting of ten Public Service Ministers from the UK, France, Greece, Italy,Luxembourg, Spain, Austria, Belgium and Portugal agreed a ten point action plan to improve public services.

The plan, which was drawn up by Public Service Minister Dr David Clark, emphasises the importance of citizens and businesses as stakeholders in public services. It provides for consultation on what people expect from the services and for publications of standards and performance outcomes. It also fosters partnership working and the sharing of best practice, both within countries and across the European Union.

Public Service Ministers will meet again in Vienna in November to consider progress.