Pietro Colla

Digital Memory: Perspectives of Archives in the EU Institutions

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The impact of digitalization on public sector data keeping is a good indicator of how e-culture is affecting at present our society relation to the Past. The article provides an insider's view over the last 15 years archiving rules and practices in the EU institutions. Digital office practices have lead to a "democratisation" of administrative and legal documents management. Professional status and relevance of trained archive staff has been declining, as control on the strategic options (and resources) is taken over by IT experts and advisors. Discrepancy between rule-making and every-day experience is striking. Outwardly, since the 1990s, the generalization of e-generated documents was followed by a codification of every official's responsibility for their conservation. Compulsory procedures have been established for e-documents registration. But besides a tight set of decisions with patent legal or budgetary impact, the fragmentation of responsibilities for long-term archiving have led to put the focus on current files accessibility and interactivity. On the long run, inconsistent storage of multiple (and multilingual) versions of a text and inability to keep a record of the flow of decision-making processes might involve a risk for democracy and legal certainty within the EU.


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