The Digital Post talked to Krzysztof Szubert, Plenipotentiary of Minister for International Affairs and Strategic Advisor to the Minister, about Poland’s ambitious plans to boost digital infrastructures and services.
The Digital Post: What are the main priorities of Digital Poland?
Krzysztof Szubert: Poland aspires to the group of leading EU countries, thus we need to take an active political position with regard to digital transformation of the state. We need to support the strategy for developing the information society combined with efficient coordination of this process. Having that in mind, we have decided with Minister Anna Strezynska, to develop up to 20-pages long document “Strategic Action Priorities of the Minister of Digital Affairs”. It is based on 5 pillars and 18 actions.
The five fundamental principles are: 1) the state should serve the citizen – thanks to digital technology the state should connect dispersed institutions and change complex procedures into consistent and simple services; 2) access to the public network and services must be safe for our data and all types of transactions conducted in the network; 3) in order to pursue e-administration targets, but above all, to achieve social and economic goals, it is necessary to accelerate the development of modern telecommunications infrastructure; 4) development of the desired innovative economy needs permanent and easy access to data gathered by public services and we need to constantly – regardless of age – improve our digital competences to effectively benefit from digitization and compete on the global market.
We are very much aware that this is not cherry-picking as for those principles to bear fruit it is necessary to observe them all together while developing any strategic public service actions. We have put together as many as 18 of them and their wide variety ranges from having one gate to services, and across adopting standards of electronic circulation of documents down to being more effective in the EU or other international institutions so that we have a stronger say on the law that is shaped up there.
TDP: How these plans could make the difference?
KS: First of all, we do have the strategy in place to follow. Over the last many years it has been the chaotic way of development and making available of electronic public services that have limited access to them to very narrow groups of recipients with their interoperability being far from ideal.
Each Polish citizen, organization and entrepreneur should be able to settle any official matter electronically while contacting any level of public administration. When we deliver that, “we will win”. What makes this strategy stand out from any previous attempts is that we really want not only the whole government participating but also wide support from all other stakeholders. The draft priorities had been available for public comment and we received huge input that finally became part of what we are implementing now.
TDP: What are the highest challenges Poland is facing in terms of digital?
KS: Lack of coordination as well as deficit of efficient project management of Polish administration directly affect the quality of development of e-administration which is all about providing facilitations for citizens and entrepreneurs. It is necessary to urgently improve methods of implementation of innovative projects and create the main center coordinating their management. To support that, we think that heading towards the national CIO model seems to be the right step. Efficiency of public administration systems is one of the conditions for the stability of the state – we have to convince our citizen and business to relay on them and to use them.
TDP: Do the Digital Single Market meet the expectations of Polish government? What are in your opinion the most important aspects of the strategy?
KS: Digitization is, in fact, the transformation of the state, rather than merely buying systems and equipment. By using modern technologies, the state can become a service provider. It is to develop faster, become more friendly and support the needs of citizens, entrepreneurs, organizations and local governments.
The DSM strategy in general is helping address those needs in many areas, but we have to be sure that it fits well into our specific market – that there is no place for one-size-fits-all. Digital Single Market requires efforts towards removing the real problems to the development of e-commerce within the EU. The main challenges the smart DSM will have to face are threefold: making sure the undertaken efforts put first the citizen, the consumer and the Internet user while adding as less as possible to regulatory burden for business with having single market benefits spread fairly equally among Member States.
TDP: Will Brexit affect European digital policies?
KS: As you may know, a broader vision of the digital single market (incl. digital policy) in the EU – supported by the Polish Government – is set out in works of the group of like-minded EU Member States which has recently been very active in making a strong consolidated voice heard in Brussels. There are 14 Member States including UK & Poland in it. We will continue to keep the same vision of building the solid foundation of the digital economy and moving the single market to the digital age without imposing new burdens on businesses.
The UK has so far been an important part of that message, and I hope it will continue to be such and that we can even convince other countries to “join the club”. Poland is now leading the V4 (the Visegrad Group) and we will stick to that vision regardless of the UK being in or out of the European Union, as long as digital single market and digital policies are bringing benefits both to the citizens and to the business sector. Therefore, one of the priorities of the Minister of Digital Affairs will be pursuing active and determined policy to reinforce our participation in developing the EU and international solutions and securing Poland’s social and economic benefits.