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SEEDIG 2018 | Programme details

23–24 May | Ljubljana

Data & data governance in SEE*

(S1) Digitalisation & digital policies in SEE: National priorities and regional cooperation [High-level session]

23 May  |  09:15 – 10:30


Relevant proposals

1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 20, 21, 23, 24, 39, 51, 72, 103** (see the list of proposals)


Digitalisation is a buzzword these days, but what does it actually mean for South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area? How are countries in the region taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the Internet and digital technologies? What do they do to minimise the risks associated with the use of these technologies? And how can regional cooperation help the various actors address the challenges of digital transformation?


Regional cooperation, collaboration, digitalisation, digital transformation, digital policy,  economic and social development, multistakeholderism

Session description

As catalysts for innovation, economic growth, and social development, the Internet and digital technologies are important for the sustainable development of the region of South Eastern Europe and the neighbouring area, as well as for the protection and promotion of its rich cultural heritage. These technologies also have the potential of facilitating democratic processes and bringing more efficiency and transparency into policymaking processes.

Aware of these opportunities, countries in the region are taking steps to promote and support digital transformation across the public and private sectors, and to ensure that individuals, businesses, and governmental bodies alike can take advantage of what digital technologies have to offer.

But this digital transformation also comes with challenges, in areas such as addressing the persistent digital divide, ensuring cybersecurity and fighting cybercrime, protecting human rights online, countering hybrid threats, and tackling the risks posed by extremist content online and the spread of fake news.

If we put countries across the region under the magnifying glass, what does digital transformation actually look like at national level? Who is taking advantage of the digital dividends, and who is lagging behind? What are the national priorities when it comes to the Internet and digital technologies? What areas do different stakeholders (governments, private companies, civil society organisations, etc.) focus on to support digitalisation? What policies are countries developing and implementing to maximise the opportunities offered by digital technologies and to minimise the risks? And are these policies enough? If not, what else is needed? How are different stakeholders contributing to these policies and are their needs and interests met?

Zooming out, to what extent are the challenges of digitalisation common across the region? If there are common challenges, can countries cooperate in addressing them? Are there particular strengths the region can build upon to advance on its path to sustainable digital development? What is being done and what else is needed to make regional digital cooperation more effective? And what could this strengthened cooperation look like in a multistakeholder framework?

Session format

Interactive roundtable discussion

Main roles

Moderator: Jean-Jacques Sahel, Vice President – Stakeholder Engagement & Managing Director – Europe, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Key participants:

  • Michał Boni, Member of the European Parliament, Poland
  • Frédéric Donck, Managing Director, European Regional Bureau, Internet Society, Belgium
  • Adrian Josip Ježina, CEO, Telemach Slovenia
  • Désirée Miloshevic, Founding Executive Director, Internet Society Serbia & Chair of the Board, ShareFoundation, Serbia
  • Cătălin Zamfira, Member of Parliament, Chamber of Deputies, Parliament of Romania

Online moderator: Tetiana Kyryliuk, The Influencer Platform, Ukraine


  • Maja Ćalović, Mediacentar Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Cătălin Vrabie, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania


The Digital Economy in Southeast Europe, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, September 2017

Key messages

  • The SEE+ region needs a common digital agenda, and enhanced cooperation across the region is an essential step in this direction. To more efficiently and effectively address the challenges that come with digitalisation, we need to build on the region’s strengths (such as its human talent and cultural diversity) and create a framework for cooperation and exchange of good practices among countries and among all stakeholder groups.
  • The essential precondition for bridging digital divides and for the digitalisation of the region is infrastructure. Countries need to deploy high speed broadband networks, also in rural areas, and prepare for the deployment of new generations of broadband technologies. Proper regulation and enhanced market competition are needed for the creation of an enabling environment.
  • Sustainable digital development across the SEE+ region can only be achieved by creating a stimulating environment, through a holistic approach and the involvement of all stakeholders in a bottom-up multistakeholder model. We need to actively support this model through building and empowering communities that cooperate towards achieving common goals.
  • To join the next wave of data-driven development, we need to have more ambitious goals, at national and at regional levels. More focus should be placed on developing digital skills, supporting the digital economy, and enhancing cybersecurity while ensuring the protection of digital rights.
  • Countries must acknowledge that brain drain is a serious issue in the region and act to address it. Structural changes across the educational and economic sectors are needed to overcome this phenomenon. An enabling environment needs to be created that allows young people to thrive both educationally and entrepreneurially, or we risk lagging behind.

Video recording

Organising team

Team leads: SEEDIG Executive Committee

Team members:

  • Fotjon Kosta, Albania IGF/Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, Albania
  • Vladimir Kukovsky, Ukrainian IGF/Ukrainian Internet Association, Ukraine
  • Irene Portela, Polytechnic Institute of Cavado and Ave, Portugal
  • Oliana Sula, University ‘Aleksandër Moisiu’ Durrës/Estonian Business School, Albania
  • Cătălin Vrabie, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania

Contact point:

  • Sorina Teleanu, SEEDIG Executive Committee


* Data is proposed as a cross-cutting topic for SEEDIG 2018, and an anchor to link the different sessions included in the programme.

** The programme outline has been built considering proposals submitted during the call for issues. For each session, there is an indication of the proposals that are considered to pertain to the topic of the session. You can find the list of proposals and their corresponding ID numbers on the dedicated page.