Czechia’s digital shortcomings could be fixed with EU recovery money

The Czech Republic will use around €1.6 billion of the €7.2 billion from the National Recovery Plan to develop e-government, e-commerce and digital transformation, Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation and Regional Development Minister Ivan Bartoš, said at the Digital Czech Republic conference on Thursday (12 May). [Shutterstock/DesignRage]

EU recovery funds may help Czechia fix its broadband connection costs and its lacking digitally qualified personnel.

The Czech Republic will use around €1.6 billion of the €7.2 billion from the National Recovery Plan to develop e-government, e-commerce and digital transformation, Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation and Regional Development Minister Ivan Bartoš, said at the Digital Czech Republic conference on Thursday (12 May).

This is in line with the Commission’s condition for member states to allocate 20% of their recovery funds to the digital sector.

Czech priorities include introducing a pan-European digital identity and digital signature, strengthening cybersecurity in line with the growing amount of data in cyberspace, and the education of IT specialists. The Digital Czech Republic strategy, which has been in the making for the past few years, serves as a basis for these.

According to Bartoš, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine showed how important digitisation of the state and its services is, particularly as the state enters the lives of citizens and companies which have to communicate with it.

Czechia ranks 18th in the European digital economy index, said European Parliament Vice-President Dita Charanzova (ANO, Renew). It excels in e-commerce but lags in broadband connection costs and struggles with a shortage of digitally qualified personnel.

Moving forward is not about using subsidy programmes but about creating an innovative environment in which institutions will become digitised and develop new technologies, former industry and trade minister Karel Havlicek (ANO) said at the conference.

As part of its EU Council presidency starting in July, Czechia wants to focus on citizens and their data in the single European market, among other things, Bartoš also said.

To boost the bloc’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, member states will receive extraordinary EU funds as part of their national recovery plans. On top of the €7 billion Czechia will receive in grants under the recovery plan, it could get another €600 million.

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