Czas przyspieszyć digitalizację!

How digitization can drive economic growth in Poland? A European perspective – konferencja organizowana przez (TTCpl) i Polityka Insight, podczas której Centrum Analityczne Polityka Insight przedstawiło swój raport – Time to speed up. Digitlization of the Polish economy. Następnie dyskusja autorów i ekspertów na temat poziomu cyfryzacji polskiej gospodarki i zaleceń dt. działań Polski w obszarze cyfryzacji.


There is no possibility in the modern world to consider the key factors for development without understanding the significance and the real impact of the digital era. The digital is everywhere, for everybody, everything becomes digital. In that sense the Report on Digital Poland – Time to speed up: is very useful, well prepared and well structured. And the only thing, I feel we didn’t do enough – is the holistic approach to the process of digitization of the economy and society.

How to describe the different dimensions of the starting point for Digital Poland?

It is not so easy. Some of them are related to the essential growth of digital market drivers (also access to Internet). Some of them were related to the European supporting sources – money for business and public institutions. Some of them were established by international companies and their global activities. But we should not forget about some key points in the last decade for digital development:

  • building the telecom market as competitive (crucial role of the regulator), with completely new law from 2010 and 2012 implementing the market and European rules, especially for investment support,
  • regional investments (by using European founds) to build over 25 thousands kilometers of infrastructure, which is the background for the next steps for full accessibility to Internet and should improve the average Internet speed from the current 10 Mb/ s,
  • delayed auctions for 800 MHz frequencies, which should speed up achieving the goal of 3 and 4G implementation, but at the same time it means that we will be also delayed in 700 mHz investments, which is bad for the speed and quality of Internet services and starting to work on the 5G,
  • digitalization of the TV signal, which was important for the audiovisual services development, convergence of media and new model of services – on demand,
  • the program of supporting elderly people in their digital skills („Latarnicy” lighthous digital attitudes and empowering local digital leaders, and in addition – starting the project: Digital School, which failed unfortunately because of lack of proper decisions of the Ministry of Education,
  • preparation of the strategy and law on digital services and electronic communication of administrative services with e- identification at the essential level, and with the plan of integration of public registries, which is key for interactivity, simplification and integration of administrative services,
  • implementation of the re-use directive, in the first version 4 years ago, with the concept of the Central Repository of Public Information, which has started in 2014, and the new version of this Act: which is important for opening the public sources, using public information in many purposes, also commercial – without any payment,
  • leading the debate on data protection regulation in parallel to the European one – Poland as the European leader in that process. Due to the cooperation of all stakeholders: balancing the position of representatives of the fundamental rights view with the position and needs of the business for making the trust as a background for data driven economy,
  • starting the hot and controversial debate on copyright in 2012, without clear conclusions, but with identification of the proper area for discussion, which is now the area of debate also in Europe: geoblocking, portability, digital content services, text and data mining, exceptions for research and education objectives,
  • decisions on better coordination of digital challenges by establishing the Ministry focused on that task and the Council of Ministries Committee, responsible for digital affairs,
  • establishing the special Operational Program addressing digital challenges, namely – the Digital Poland, which is the good tool for digital, coordinated development and ensures financing of the activities.

Of course, we were confronted with many barriers and problems at that time. I want to emphasize only three:

  • the lack of understanding by Polish political elites and decision makers – of the digital revolution as a game changer for all aspects of life, first of all – for the economy as a whole. Especially, it is important to know, that Internet has the multiplier impact for the GDP growth. But, we are still oriented at the ICT sector development, not at the ICT in all sectors. In addition – there is a lack of understanding of this problem among business groups: the role of digital tools as supportive for scaling up the business, be open for the new cross border markets,
  • the lack of coordination of digital efforts: Polish institutions are functioning as „siloes” with all consequences – so we are making overlapping decisions and measures. You can have the idea, even the legal framework and the plan of implementation, but there is no possibility to implement the solution on time and according to the plan, because of the conflicts of interests among those with power (as it was seen as the lack of full involvement of public institutions in establishing the repository of public information). I have challenged it very painfully. Unfortunately, I see now, the similar situation. The Act on police and mass invigilation was discussed and implemented without any influence of the Ministry of Digitization to stop it, which is undermining the trust as a basis in the area of digital economy. I do not see any interest to implement the General Data Protection Regulation in the way, which was experienced during the work on Regulation – with participation of all stakeholders and orientation on real harmonization those 54 options, which exist in the Regulation – and demand national decisions,
  • the lack of trust among government, companies, and users at the area of digitization of all kind of public services, also important for e Health and e-ID. It is related to the corruption, but also to the destroyable measures taken by the Central Anticorruption Office – too many accusations and suspicious views on the digital market – disseminated publicly without real evidence, which resulted in broad conviction, that digital means: corruption.

Why I am expressing so strongly those problems ?

Because, and it is written in the Report, we are moving from the starting point to the tipping point at the area of digital. We are moving from the lagging behind country to the country, which is catching up. In the Report we have included the results of analysis of five crucial pillars: digital resources, e-business, e-commerce, business environment, digital literacy. In all fields we are in the group of those countries, which are going forward very fast – it is shown by increase of the value of the Digital Indexes of some areas between 2008 – 2014.

I think, that it was possible due to the positive coincidence of some factors. The market drivers and the increased demand made by users, expecting the new, digital services, the processes of the growth of the economy per se, and in some fields – the real impact of the stimulators made by public policies. All those factors allowed making the shift from the starting point to the tipping point of our digital development.

But, how can we make a shift from this tipping point – to the turning one, so – really go ahead ?

There are some conditions.

Firstly, we need to improve the institutional coordination among all public institutions with power and interests in real terms, if we want to make in Poland this shift – to the digital turning point.

Secondly, we need to put the digital game changer in the center of Polish development policy as a horizontal factor in all time perspectives: short and long term. The holistic view is needed. To understand, that there is no possibility to lead the digital challenges as: business as usual, and that the new concept – is needed.

Thirdly, it is important to use the Operational Program Digital Poland as a tool and leverage, coming back to the first idea of this Program. There were three pillars: one – oriented at the infrastructural development as a basic condition, two – as a supply/ demand factor for development because of the focus on content and services increase, three – focused on e-skills increase, which is the guarantee for the demand growth and also inclusiveness, added value of this digital game changer.

Fourthly, we have to promote digital changes and create broad and wise coalition of all partners, understanding all digital opportunities. It requires a transparent way of public procurement for digital services and capacity for setting priorities. It is the key – for the new framework for digital development. There is a regulatory and non-regulatory framework. In Europe, and in Poland we need to remember that in the competition between technology and legislation – the technology will always win. Technology is faster. So, it is a key to understand, that in every area of digital game changer we need the rules. But rules – do not mean in every case the strong regulation. We have the „soft law”, more possibilities for codes of conducts, guidelines, clear schemes for certifications, co- and self-regulations. Regarding the regulation – as less as possible, as strong as it is really necessary. This is the message for digital development.

Fifthly, the work on GDPR implementation plan is one of the key solutions. To raise the awareness for data protection and consciousness for the problem of the ownership of the data – this is crucial and should be promoted. It will create the trust, and adjust those possible options for separated national solutions that exist in the regulation now and allow harmonization in Europe. During these two years period for implementation – we can give a chance for many companies to develop, which will be based on data collecting, processing, transferring, re-using, sharing for many purposes and for the new business models. Common understanding of the rules for data protection will support discovery of new opportunity for open science development and new forms of innovation. It will clearly show the necessity of the high quality of the infrastructural networks, also the High Performance Computing Centers, fundamental for data driven economy.

Sixthly, we need to implement, now already prepared by the team of experts, the schemes of learning and teaching and curricula for coding at every level of education and every kind of school. It will change the logic in Polish education system, but it will adjust today’s pupils to the future requirements of the labour market, also oriented on cooperation between humans and robots. The reference point is in the United Kingdom and Estonia. Of course, we need to continue the e-skills development among seniors.

Seventhly, we need to participate in the European road map for 5G. It means: to speed up the work on harmonized solutions of using 700MHz in Europe, prepare to use lower frequencies from 460 to 680 MHz, be ready together with other Member States for starting the work on GHz – from 6 to 100 GHz in the future. There is no possibility to develop Internet of Things industries, autonomous car development, eHealth future advantages without high speed Internet allowing for transferring the data in milliseconds. But firstly, we are obliged to stop the crazy actions made by deputies from the Polish Parliament – focused on destroyable requirements as a condition for the investors to have the social approval of technical parameters for dissemination the mobile signal. Close to the infrastructural challenges there are: common European standardization and interoperability as a background also for European exchange of public services and e-government solutions.

Eighthly, thinking about accessibility of European e-services, e-products, e-content for Polish consumers and at the same time scaling up Polish companies with their offer addressed to the cross border recipients – we need to have the rules for digital common market, overcome fragmentation, the single, united model of the consumers’ rights protection, copyright rules adjusted to the needs of clients and authors’ rights expectations. But at the same time, we do not need the new, special taxes for e-shopping, and e-commerce in Poland. It will be contradictory to many real trends at the area of e-commerce development.

Ninthly, the multiple push for the digital development require the new demand. It can be related to the public services development, simplification of paying the taxes and using the justice system, opening public data and making some sources legally much more accessible. But first of all – the big window of the opportunity is: eHealth. It will completely change the model of healthcare area – from services oriented on reactions to diseases to much more preventive model. This is for every patient; this is the opportunity for monitoring the state of health in the real time. This is for personalization of the medical services and this is cost-effective solution. Creation of the framework for eHealth development should be encouraged in Poland.

Tenthly, it is visible that, the only way for Polish digital success is to play the same game – as it is played in Europe. We have to work together with the European Union on Digital Single Market project. We are talking about the Digital Single Market not only because the „single market” is one built on the European goals and values. But first of all – because this is the advantage for building in the relatively short time the new European competitive advantages.

Those 10 points, I hope – that will be the best way to use the digital potential of Polish economy and society. And it will start the shift from: promising as for now, the tipping point in advancing the digital solutions – to the real turning point.

Michal Boni, MEP

19 th April, 2016