Each public administration contributing to the provision of a European public service works within its own national legal framework. Legal interoperability is about ensuring that organisations operating under different legal frameworks, policies and strategies are able to work together. This might require that legislation does not block the establishment of European public services within and between Member States and that there are clear agreements about how to deal with differences in legislation across borders, including the option of putting in place new legislation.

The first step towards addressing legal interoperability, is to perform ‘interoperability checks’ by screening existing legislation to identify interoperability barriers: sectoral or geographical restrictions in the use and storage of data, different and vague data licence models, over-restrictive obligations to use specific digital technologies or delivery modes to provide public services, contradictory requirements for the same or similar business processes, outdated security and data protection needs, etc.

Coherence between legislation, in view of ensuring interoperability, should be assessed before adoption and through evaluating their performance regularly once they are put into application.

Bearing in mind that European public services are clearly meant to be provided - amongst others - from digital channels, ICT must be considered as early as possible in the law-making process. In particular, proposed legislation should undergo a ‘digital check’:

  • to ensure that it suits not only the physical but also the digital world (e.g. the internet);
  • to identify any barriers to digital exchange; and
  • to identify and assess its ICT impact on stakeholders.

This will facilitate interoperability between public services at lower levels (semantic and technical) as well, and increase the potential for reusing existing ICT solutions, so reducing cost and implementation time.

The legal value of any information exchanged between Member States should be maintained across borders, and data protection legislation in both originating and receiving countries complied with. This might require additional agreements to overcome potential differences in the implementation of the applicable legislation.

This is the recommendation regarding legal interoperability:

Source: European Interoperability Framework - Promoting seamless services and data flows for European public administrations, COM(2017)134, 23 March 2017, url (Available in the languages of the EU Member States)