“What is key is to partner together” in the digital transformation, between the regional and bilateral approach, and between international and government partners, as well as the private sector. This was the message from Hoa-Binh Adjemian, Head of Sector, Economic Development and Digital for the Eastern Partnership Countries at the European Commission’s DG NEAR Unit C1, introducing the second day of the EU4Digital Steering Committee, in its session on ‘Eastern Partnership – Current policy agenda and post- 2020 priorities’, on 28 September.

The session highlighted EU policy priorities on digital, the achievements and next steps for the four projects under the EU4Digital initiative, as well as state of play and future priorities in the six partner countries.

Setting out the EU’s digital approach for the Eastern Partnership, Hoa-Binh Adjemian highlighted the targets set under the EU’s Post-2020 Eastern Partnership priorities, including affordable high-speed internet for at least 80% of households, a reduction of roaming prices of at least 80%, the digital empowerment of a million EaP citizens, and improvements to the eGovernance framework.

Lars-Erik Forsberg, Deputy Head of Unit, Policy Outreach and International Affairs at DG CONNECT, shared the EU’s ideas for the digital decade ahead as set out in the Digital Compass, built around the idea of digital citizenship, with the four cardinal points of skills, infrastructure, business and government. He also underlined the importance of collective mobilisation, and said success could only come in synergy between the EU, its member states and private sector.

EU4Digital achievements and looking ahead

With the EU4Digital Facility entering the final months of its activities, its Team Leader Arturas Piliponis, set out the Facility’s achievements in the project’s six thematic areas:

Telecom Rules, including the expected signature of regional roaming and spectrum agreements in December 2021;

Trust and Security, including eSignature pilot, regional roadmap towards cross-border mutual recognition, and new support on eGovernance;

eTrade, including successful pilots on eDelivery, eCustoms and eCommerce;

ICT Innovation, including the design of a new €100-150 million regional EaP DISC Capital fund, support on start-up ecosystems, development of the concept for a regional EdTech hub, and development of women’s mentorship programme;

eHealth, including the development of interoperability guidelines and building of eHealth community;

Digital Skills, including establishment of National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalitions and Digital Competence Framework for SMEs.

Besnik Limay, team leader of the Cybersecurity East project, outlined the project’s achievements in the vital area of cybersecurity, including strengthened national cybersecurity governance and legal frameworks, and support to operational capacities for cyber incidents and crisis management, built around workshops, professional trainings and operational exercises involving cybersecurity authorities in the partner countries.

State of play in partner countries

The second half of the morning’s session saw presentations on the state of play and future priorities for digital transformation in each the six Eastern partner countries, with interventions from national representatives and the EU Delegations in each country.

The representatives from the Republic of Moldova said integration into the EU Digital Single Market remained the highest priority for the country – “not only a priority but a catalyst for development” – and highlighted their support for the digitalisation of SMEs and innovative start-ups by developing an enabling environment for innovation.

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