CEO Conference: Europe at the forefront of the Digital Transformation: Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Bulgaria Needs to Outgrow Analogous Policies and Politicians to Make Digital Economy Happen
– Tomislav Donchev: The digital economy is generation 4.0 and we cannot meet it with a 3.0 administration and education that is 0 or even 1.0.
– Bulgaria has five priorities for the EU presidency: improving connectivity, enhancing the competitiveness of the digital market, developing an economy based on free data flow, improving cyber security, and personal data protection.
The US Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria (AmCham) has opened the first large public discussion with the government on the Bulgarian presidency of the EU Council. Together with an 18-member delegation of the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union we had meetings with the government to discuss possible areas of interaction and how AmCham EU’s expertise can be useful, said Krassimira Chemishanska, President of AmCham Bulgaria, at a forum titled “Europe at the Forefront of the Digital Transformation: Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council 2018”.
AmCham Bulgaria believes that the Bulgarian presidency is an important test for Bulgaria’s national, political and diplomatic capacity.
Participants in the forum included Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister, Lilyana Pavlova, Minister of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2018, Dimitar Genovski, Deputy Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, Lachezar Borisov, Deputy Minister of Economy, and Karl Cox, Chairman of AmCham EU.
Minister Donchev pointed out that the digital economy was generation 4.0 and it could not materialize with a 3.0 administration and education that was 2.0 or even 1.0. He also underscored that in rivalry with Asia and North America local manufacturing was burdened by the highest environmental standards and that Europe made 50% of the global social costs, which affected its competitiveness. Donchev also presented the results of an inquiry conducted among European entrepreneurs that show that 75% of them believe the future belongs to digital technology but only 20% adopt digital technology in their business and 5% invest in staff retraining.
Minister Pavlova presented Bulgaria’s five priorities for the upcoming presidency of the EU Council. These include improving connectivity, as well as support for the Wi-fi for All initiative of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Another key point is the development of a competitive digital market by means of a cyber security strategy that will allow the implementation of a single digital market.
The development of an economy based on free data flow is also a priority. This will involve the adoption of a legislation, which in Minister Pavlova’s words “is stalling”. The protection of all internet operators is not included in the existing legislative framework. Member states and European political parties are not united over personal data protection. Bulgaria will also work for the adoption of a common European plan for electronic governance, as well as for a directive to protect copyrights.
In a video address Maria Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, pointed out that the contribution of the digital market to the European economy was expected to reach €739 billion by 2020. She also underscored the need for women’s inclusion in technology, where Bulgaria could serve as an example. In Bulgaria, 27.7% of the people in digital business are women, compared with just 16% in the EU.
According to Karl Cox it is no coincidence that one of the priorities is the development of a European economy based on free data movement. The alternative is localization of data, which is a deadlock. That is an obstacle to the single market and economic growth.
Smart Regulation of Free Flow of Data, Cyber Security Dominate Business Discussion
Building the European data economy via free flow of data and smart regulations, cybersecurity in Europe, cloud computing and IoT were main topics discussed by businesses in the IT field at the AmCham Conference “Europe at the Forefront of the Digital Transformation: Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council”.
Susan Danger, AmCham CEO moderated the discussion with: Thomas Myrup Kristensen, managing director, EU Affairs, Facebook, Matthias Sachs, senior corporate affairs manager CELA, Microsoft; Lyubomir Minchev, group chief executive officer, Telelink Group; George Hira, senior account manager, Oracle East Central Europe Limited Bulgaria; Liam Benham, vice-president, government and regulatory affairs, IBM Europe; Claudia Selli, EU affairs director, AT&T; and Iravan Hira, managing director, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Bulgaria.
Karl Cox, chairman, American Chamber of Commerce to the EU, vice-president, Global Public Affairs, Oracle said that the alternative to building the EU economy via free flow of data is data localization – which is basically a dead end and an obstacle to single market and economic growth.
Iravan Hira, managing director, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Bulgaria said that the companies need to transform in order to keep up with technologies. Speed, cultural and organizational changes are most important. Technology is easy, but culture on how you should operate is difficult. In that case the companies should have a three-year plan to transform and keep up with it.
Matthias Sachs, senior corporate affairs manager CELA, Microsoft said that telecommunications keep up with the change in the regulations.
“When you look at the current status, data transfer will be heavily regulated and will not be of use for users and companies, which base their business on data. We see that regulation might hinder innovation. We need to be wise and very conscious”, he said.
100% cyber security is impossible. The dark side is faster, and it is difficult to catch up and react, especially via regulations. There should be also discussion of private and corporate protection. How far you need to go to protect your assets? And data is the new gold. The protection should be equal to the uniqueness of data you use.
George Hira, senior account manager, Oracle East Central Europe Ltd. said the security should be consolidated and investing in data protection is necessary. Moving data security to secure centers is also a solution. Where the centers will be located is another question.
Liam Benham, Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, IBM Europe said there are not prescribed rules against cyber-attacks as the threats are evolving as we should as well. Real time information should be shared – if there is a bridge, everyone should be aware of it. And there should be no difference between public and private sectors, but we should help each other.
Thomas Myrup Kristensen, managing director, EU Affairs, Facebook said that from Brussel’s perspective – there are a lot of regulations that are coming up. It should be smart regulation and to do it, one key component is not to stay in the Brussel’s bubble. A broader discussion between business, government and policy makers is needed.
Susan Danger, AmCham CEO confirmed the readiness of AmCham EU to continue working with the alliances and keep talking to the policy makers.
Petar Ivanov, AmCham executive director said that Bulgarian government is open to business community. AmCham will continue the dialogue and work closely with Bulgarian institutions on the digital agenda.