On Tuesday, 28 April 2015, the Aspen Institute Prague together with the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) hosted a workshop in Prague. This event was part of the series of workshops organized within the Creating a Digital Agenda for Visegrad project supported by the International Visegrad Fund.
The debate took place only a few days before the European Commission introduces its strategy for the creation of the Digital Single Market (DSM). The State Secretary of the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Mr. Peter Javorčík and the Czech State Secretary for European Affairs Mr. Tomáš Prouza discussed common interests of the V4 Group in the DSM at the EU level as well as possible regional solutions. Over 30 participants including key stakeholders from business, state administration, business associations and internet platforms took part in the discussion. The event was preceded by an informal briefing by Mr. Prouza and Mr. Javorčík for a group of selected journalists.
Mr. Javorčík presented the idea behind and activities of the Slovak V4 Presidency in this area. He appreciated the willingness of the V4 Group to work jointly in the digital field and shape the digital agenda at the EU level. He pointed to the V4 initiatives aimed at supporting innovative start-ups from the region such as a recent We4Startups project in the Silicon Valley (which presented 12 start-ups from the V4 countries in Palo Alto). Mr. Prouza confirmed continuity of the V4 presidencies declaring that the digital agenda will be one of three priorities of the upcoming Czech V4 Presidency. He also presented the vision of the digital agenda segments that the Czech V4 Presidency will be focused on.
Workshop participants agreed that to advance the digitalisation of the V4 region, certain key issues should be discussed at a regional level including better regulatory framework for cross-border e-commerce, support for start-up initiatives, promotion of digital education, improvement of the internet infrastructure and development of policies for data-driven economy such as Big Data, Internet of Things, etc. Principles such as digital by default and net neutrality were highlighted several times in the course of the discussion. Participants also appreciated the regional aspects of the debate and the fact that the Slovak V4 Presidency included this topic into its V4 presidency priorities.
Asked about how business can help in the current situation, workshop participants agreed that it was a shared role of governments and business to create a ‘more attractive’ image of the digital agenda that could be ‘sold’ to politicians and people more easily. In this context, participants repeatedly highlighted the importance of the digital arena success stories.
CEPI’s Managing Director Milan Nič concluded the workshop by noting digital market is part of a larger debate on modernization of the V4 region, its competitiveness and its position in Europe.