EU4Digital, a new programme funded by the European Union to support the digital economy and society, held its launch event in Baku on 31 May 2019, with the support of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan.
The aim of the event was to present the EU4Digital programme as a flagship initiative, channelling a broad range of actions in support of EU policy objectives in the digital area. The event also took stock of the situation and progress made in the digital sector in Azerbaijan, and looked ahead to upcoming actions.
The meeting was addressed by Simona Gatti, Minister Counsellor, Head of the Department of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Azerbaijan, and Elmir Valizade, Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan.
Simona Gatti, Minister Counsellor, Head of the Department of Cooperation of the European Union to Azerbaijan welcomed the launch of the programme: “Today we are launching the EU4Digital programme, an EU-funded regional initiative with a total budget of €11 million for the Eastern Partnership countries. We expect that the project will improve the work of government institutions, boost economic diversification with creation of growth and jobs and also improve the life of Azerbaijani citizens. The harmonisation of digital markets will result in improved online services at better prices and with greater choice for all people.”
“We highly appreciate the initiative of ‘Harmonization of Digital Markets’ (HDM) in the formulation and development of the digital economy,” said Deputy Minister Elmir Valizade. “Our country is actively involved in each of the six directions of the HDM initiative. Azerbaijan takes the role of coordinator country in the direction of ‘Innovation and Start-up Ecosystems’ and the ‘Electronic Customs’ subsection. We believe that the work on HDM will support the development of the digital economy in Azerbaijan.”
The Deputy Minister added that development of the digital economy was a key priority for Azerbaijan: “The central government in Baku keeps close track of this direction as one of the priority issues in line with the state-sponsored development strategy. The ‘National Strategy for the Information Society Development in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2014–2020’, a comprehensive guide for developing the national digital economy, has been adopted, and the formulation of the digital economy is set as one of the main goals. In addition, the Strategic Roadmap for the development of telecommunications and information technologies in the Republic of Azerbaijan, which was adopted at the end of 2016, has put serious obligations on the sector for ensuring faster and secure digital transition. Therefore, we support firmly the steps taken under the EU4Digital programme,” Deputy Minister Elmir Valizade said.
The opening remarks were followed by a full presentation of the programme, and a panel discussion on how EU4Digital complements other digital initiatives in Azerbaijan and the wider region.
About ‘EU4Digital: supporting digital economy and society in the Eastern Partnership’
EU4Digital aims to extend the benefits of the European Union’s Digital Single Market to the Eastern Partner states, channelling EU support to develop the potential of the digital economy and society, in order to bring economic growth, generate more jobs, improve people’s lives and help businesses.
Through EU4Digital, the EU supports Eastern Partnership countries on reducing roaming tariffs, developing high-speed broadband to boost economies and expand e-services, harmonising digital frameworks across society, in areas ranging from logistics to health, building cyber security, developing skills, and creating more jobs in the digital industry.