Digitization is one of the main goals of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. According to the Minister for Regional Development and Deputy Prime Minister for Digitization Ivan Bartoš (Pirates), the government has already recorded success - an agreement on the program for the digital transformation of Europe. However, according to Vice-PM Bartoš, moving forward towards digitization will not occur without the business sector.
He invited companies to cooperate at the Digitization of the Czech Republic conference held on July 21 and organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic, with the media partnership of the E15 daily.
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The agreement with the European Parliament on the program and objectives of the digital transformation until 2030 (Digital Decade Policy Programme) is already complete, the final confirmation should take place at the end of the week. "We agreed on the path to 2030, not only to compare individual states in terms of specific criteria, but also to set challenges," said Ivan Bartoš at the conference.
According to him, this step is important so that specific service providers know the time frame and can adapt their strategy to the set goals. The program is built on four basic pillars aiming to improve the skills of individuals, a secure and sustainable digital infrastructure, the digital transformation of businesses and, last but not least, the digitization of public services – the key ones, including electronic healthcare. They should be completely online by 2030.
But the road to that will be long. In this regard, the whole digitization process took thirty years in advanced Estonia. Therefore, at the above-mentioned conference, Ivan Bartoš presented the digital priorities of the Czech presidency in the Council of the European Union. Among the most important is the single European digital identity (eID). "Having the possibility to identify oneself within internet services at the European level, at the international level and to be connected with the government," said Bartoš. He mentioned that from the beginning of 2021 the bank identity can be used in the Czech Republic to log into state portals and, according to him, about 2.5 million users are using this service, so eID could be a success. "We discussed the data of the customer using services at the government level in public institutions, as well as what the role of the European Union is," described Bartoš.
Cybersecurity has to be decentralized
Other major targets include the Artificial Intelligence Act, the Data Act, and cyber security. According to Bartoš, however, any change in digitization field will not be possible without the private sector. "No matter how hard governments try, the business segment is always years ahead," said the Deputy Prime Minister for Digitization, adding that the private sector has an undisputed advantage in ingenuity, quality of service and speed. One of the biggest challenges will also be to educate society to be ready for the changes.
Along with digitization comes the issue of data security. The costs of cyber security are constantly increasing, so everyone could save money by using a shared infrastructure. But according to Bartoš, creating a unified infrastructure is not possible. “If we were to share such technology nationally, one country attacked would put all countries at risk. Let's have a robust solution, but let's be agile, let's be decentralized in terms of fighting cyber-terrorism attacks, threats," he explained. However, he perceives the issue positively at the corporate level, because there are currently no borders.
The change of legislative framework is also a big issue. For example, in the field of artificial intelligence the definition is crucial. “I recently met with people from Meta. The framework is important for planning the future development of new services, because you don't want to build the entire business plan on something that could somehow be regulated against the original business plan," explained Bartoš at the conference.
Bartoš sees the benefit for digitization in the National Office for Cybernetic and Information Security (NÚKIB), currently headed by Lukáš Kintr. At present, the office primarily provides security, but the government would like to make it a strong agency in the future, for example, based on the role model of Great Britain. NÚKIB could then provide data to individual ministries, propose new systems and services, in short, be the entity enabling data sharing.
One of the global leaders in innovation and digitization is Amazon. Lucy C. Cronin, Amazon's Vice president for public policy in the EU, confirmed the determination to support the Czech Republic on the path to digitization by sharing its know-how and experience from other markets: “We are proud to bring such innovation to the Czech Republic, whether by opening a robotics fulfilment center in Kojetín in Olomouc Region next year, or, by extending fast, affordable broadband to Czechia using Project Kuiper´s low Earth orbit satellite network.” This will enable better connection of remote areas, that the state needs for systemic digitization.
The European Commission has been monitoring the progress of individual member states in the digital field since 2014. According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) for 2021, Czechia ranks 18th, which is one place below the ranking in 2020. But at the same time, digitization has a significant impact on GDP. Deloitte's 2021 study on digitization as an opportunity for the EU revealed that a mere ten percent increase in the DESI index can add 0.65 percent to gross domestic product to the economy. "Thanks to digitization, we will save 2,700 years a year," Marten Kaevats, a former advisor for Estonia's digital agenda, said at the conference. Estonia has digitized 99 percent of government services since 2008, as Kaevats mentioned in an interview for the E15 daily.