Europe’s digital future: at the heart of Bulgarian EU Presidency closing events

European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel
Photo: BTA

From 25 to 28 June, EU Digital and Innovation Week, the digital and tech flagship event of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU under the theme "re:Inventing Europe's Future", presents three high-profile events in the city of Sofia.

The official guests of the Digital Assembly (25-26 June) included Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel, Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Ivaylo Moskovski, the Vice- President of the European Parliament Evelyne Gebhardt, the Director- General of DG CONNECT Roberto Viola, European Commission officials as well as cabinet ministers from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.

The Digital Assembly discussed recently adoptedlegislative and policy initiatives: Digital in the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework; Free flow of non-personal data and the April 2018 Data package; the European Electronic Communications Code; and Promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services.

In the years since their EU accession, Central and Eastern European countries have made important strides in improving their socio-economic performance. Competitive labour costs, newly built infrastructure and access to a large Single Market have attracted significant investments in both manufacturing and services. As a result, many of these countries managed to achieve sustained economic growth.

However, the emergence of new technologies requires a strategic reflection on the future economic strategies of the countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans.

Effective implementation of digital technologies offers new opportunities for innovation and growth. At the same time, relying on labour cost advantages may not be a winning strategy for the future. Therefore, the politicians and senior policy makers, experts and entrepreneurs who attended the Digital Assembly exchanged views on possible pathways for countries to transform their economies from ones based on cost advantages to ones based on innovation and added value.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, commented the success of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of EU in the light of the Digital Single Market and the progress and priorities by the end of 2018 and beyond:

Photo: BTA

The 10thedition of “Webit. Festival Europe” (25-27 June) was part of the EU Digital and Innovation Week and welcomed over 7000 attendees from 110 countries including 1500 top policy makers from Europe and beyond: heads of state, EU commissioners, cabinet ministers, mayors, MEPs, entrepreneurs, investors, media, innovators, scientists and digital economy shapers plus a top selection of Europe's 200 most promising start-ups.

The forum was organized by Webit.Foundation under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, European Union Commissioner Digital Economy and Society and the Mayor of Sofia, and with the support of the Ministry of the Presidency of the Council of EU and the Ministry of Transport, Communications and IT.

Photo: BTA

Yesterday and today Sofia Tech Park is hosting the event The Balkan Hackathon with the motto Breaking the Digital Borders. The participants are Balkan innovators with interest in information technologies, programming, design, multimedia and marketing. They have gathered in Sofia to find technological solutions to the challenges and opportunities facing Europe. The key challenge to tackle is the digital divide: what future should be created for Europe so that not a single European citizen would feel excluded.

The Balkan Hackathon is organised by the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, Sofia Municipality (Sofia Development Association), Sofia Tech Park, the State e-Government Agency of the Republic of Bulgaria, and Webit Foundation.

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