The digital portfolio is one of the top priorities of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU and the upcoming Three Seas Initiative Ministerial Conference on digital transformation, organized by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of European Union, will feature discussions around key strategic challenges and digital policies.

Recognizing the importance of engaging in the ongoing debate on the EU’s digital future, we are proud to announce a new publication titled ‘Paving the digital path in Central and Eastern Europe – Regional perspectives on advancing digital transformation and cooperation’. The publication by the Centre for European Perspective, features articles from expert authors Theodore Christakis (AI-Regulation), Fredrik Erixon and Oscar Guinea (ECIPE – European Centre for International Political Economy), Christian Kvorning Lassen (EUROPEUM), Soňa Muzikárová (GLOBSEC Policy Institute), Márton Ugrósdy (IFAT – Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade), Mindaugas Ubartas (Infobalt), Ewelina Kasprzyk and Kamil Mikulski (Kosciuszko Institute) and Katja Mohar Baster and Jaka Repanšek (Slovenian Digital Coalition), with a foreword by the Minister of Digital Transformation of Slovenia, H.E. Mr Mark Boris Andrijanič.

Digital technologies are the future of our everyday life. The Covid-19 pandemic further increased the pace of adoption and penetration of digital solutions into all pores of our society, from our workplaces to our social interactions. Engaging in the ongoing debate on the EU’s digital future is crucial because of the impact it will bring for decades to come. It is, therefore, crucial to look at digital development from two perspectives – what the EU as a whole needs (for instance, what kind of digital standards will prevail in the future and whether or not they correspond to EU’s values) and what individual member states need, what challenges they face and where opportunities lie.

This publication aims to continue our quest to enhance cooperation in CEE and bring regional perspectives on digital transformation. Théodore Christakis affirms that the EU already is a digital regulatory superpower with international cooperation and strategic partnerships helping to secure digital standards that protect and support its values. Fredrik Erixon and Oscar Guinea alert us to the often-overlooked aspect of the new digital regulations that are still unknown but may prove to be critical for Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, while Katja Mohar Baster and Jaka Repanšek focus on two factors crucial for ensuring a digital future for Slovenia, the CEE and the entire EU: smart digital regulation and unified, competent and innovative digital environment. Catching up with developed European countries requires the countries of the 3 Seas Initiative (3SI) to grow faster, become more competitive, and build on its potential and synergy effects, write Ewelina Kasprzyk and Kamil Mikulski. They argue that increasing connectivity should be the center point of such efforts. Soňa Muzikárová tackles the importance of skill development and posits that the shortage of relevant skills, talent, and brains is likely to be the number one bottleneck for further growth; therefore, governments may want to stay open to collaboration with the private sector and other economic actors on skill enhancement. Márton Ugrosdy takes an honest look at what he calls a too optimistic approach to the CEE digital potential and highlights some of the current challenges through the Hungarian case study. Christian Kvorning Lassen discusses the challenges facing Czechia in digital development, explores policy solutions for a successful digital transformation and outlines key priorities of the upcoming Czech Presidency in support of such transformation – progressing the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Market Act (DMA), continuing work on making e-commerce part of the EU commercial policy and to further develop the Digital Compass. Finally, Mindaugas Ubartas makes a case for creating a digital environment that enables a real-time economy and moves away from document management in favor of data management as a means of avoiding the middle-income trap.

Find the PDF version below to read the full report.