Slovak and Belgian Deputy Prime Ministers Pellegrini and De Croo discuss digital and development

The Slovak and Belgian Deputy Prime Ministers, Peter Pellegrini and Alexander De Croo, have met yesterday in Brussels to discuss the role of digital solutions for international development and to exchange views on the domestic digital actions plans of both the Slovak and Belgian governments. They both emphasized the importance of a European digital single market to make Europe a digital world leader. Deputy Prime Ministers Pellegrini and De Croo met in the margins of a High Level Event on Digitalisation for Development they co-organized on behalf of the Slovak EU Presidency and the Government of Belgium.

During the past two years, both Belgium and Slovakia pioneered the idea to mainstream digital solutions in the EU’s development policy. Back in 2015, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister De Croo drafted a European concept note Digitalisation as driver of change for development cooperation, in which he elaborated the opportunities that are being provided by digitalisation to strengthen international development policies. The positive reactions to this note resulted in a common letter by 15 EU member states in which they requested to streamline digital solutions in the EU’s development policies.

The issue was then taken up by the Slovak EU Presidency, which prioritized the topic of Digital Development. The Slovak steermanship, in close collaboration with the EU External Action Service and the European Commission, resulted this week in the adoption of Council Conclusions on Digital for Development by the EU Development Ministers.

In order to implement these Council Conclusions, both Deputy Prime Ministers have taken the initiative to organize a High-Level Event on Digitalisation for Development, which was held in Brussels yesterday. The event which gathered 120 persons focused on two key issues: the role of digital technologies in tackling root causes of irregular migration and refugee crises, on the hand, and access to finance and the role of the private sector in digital for development, on the other hand.

Domestic Digital Action Plans

Deputy Prime Minister De Croo, who is also in charge of Belgium's Digital Agenda, briefed his Slovak counterpart on his action plan “Digital Belgium”. This plan outlines the digital long-term vision for Belgium and has the ambition to get Belgium into the digital top-three of the European Digital Economy and Society Index by 2020.

Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Pellegrini responsible for Investments and Information Society explained the key priorities, objectives and deliverables of the Slovak Presidency in the Council in the context of the Digital Single Market. He also informed Deputy Prime Minister De Croo on the updated National Strategy for eGovernment which is currently implemented in Slovakia aiming at the full, open and transparent digitization of public administration.