These new challenges were discussed during the last meetings of the BPCC’s Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) policy group. The event was organised by the BPCC together with the British Embassy, UPC Poland, AmCham and ThinkTankCyfrowy.PL.
The digital revolution encompasses all areas of life and provides opportunities to accelerate the EU’s economic growth. Yet a fundamental barrier on the way to reaching that goal of maximising the full development potential of a single market in digital services is the fact that there are 28 different legal solutions across the EU. "In the contest between technology and technology legislation, the former is always at least one step ahead," said Michał Boni, Poland’s former Minister of Administration and Digitisation, today a Member of the European Parliament. "Governments should strive to ensure that this area is not over-regulated – otherwise it will be limited in its development," says Mr Boni.
Senator Grzegorz Napieralski and Mr Boni agreed that in Poland the biggest challenge is to overcome barriers to the mentality of the political world. It’s a very difficult job is to convince politicians that things digital are very important. Mr Napieralski added: "it took five years to form a parliamentary committee dealing with digitisation and new technologies.” Poland has a lot of catching up to do in terms of digital public services. “We are sixth from last when it comes to the level of digitisation across the EU member states. Yet increasing social acceptance to the concept of open data enables the development of open government,” he said.
The challenge for the Polish economy is to build strategies for the digital market. "It’s necessary to give high priority to a digitisation," says Patricia Golos, corporate affairs and public policy director at UPC Poland and co-chair of AmCham’s Digital Economy Committee. A strength of Polish society is its rapid adaptation to new technologies. The development of the digital economy will also be helped by the EU programme Digital Poland. One of its priorities is investment in high-speed broadband internet access. Chris Hutchins, vice president of public policy at Liberty Global said: "Our role is to build a spine connecting businesses and consumers". Companies will have the necessary infrastructure for business development, but they will need the relevant training to be able to use the new tools that can make their business more competitive, as they come on the market.
"It’s necessary to educate small and medium-sized enterprises," says Jakub Turowski, head of public policy for Poland at Facebook. Therefore, funds should made available for advising SMEs. The digital single market broadens competition - access to broadband internet allows companies to offer their services not only domestically but also in foreign markets. "Nearly every company in the UK has plans to trade outside the UK. We want to support them in this, to make full use of available opportunities on the way to meeting their global aspirations," said Alesha De-freitas, head of Digital Single Market, at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. “Everything must happen within a framework that ensures competitiveness,” she said.
We are faced with a great challenge – educating consumers how to use the new tools as they become available. The digital revolution will not happen without the full buy-in of consumers. Currently, the creation of a true Digital Single Market is held back by price discrimination resulting from their location (geo-blocking). The European Commission in the near future will work to ensure that consumers and businesses have easier access to digital services across Europe.
Another challenge for a Digital Single Market relates to issues related to cross-border e-commerce and the physical delivery of goods. In Poland, 62% of companies trying to do business online say that excessive postage costs are a barrier to their development. And companies selling goods online across EU internal borders face the administrative burden of dealing with different VAT regimes.
Participants of the meeting agreed that the Polish economy needs a Digital Single Market even more than other EU countries.