Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Bareiß at the opening of the first Western Balkans Digital Summit in Skopje on 18 April 2018.

Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Bareiß at the opening of the first Western Balkans Digital Summit in Skopje on 18 April 2018.

© BMWi/Helge Tolksdorf

Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Bareiß today opened the first Western Balkans Digital Summit together with the Prime Minister of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, the EU’s Digital Economy Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel, and the Macedonian Information Society Minister, Damjan Manchevski. The focus for the Digital Summit in Skopje on 18 and 19 April is provided by a study commissioned by the Digital WB6+ Initiative on the status of and prospects for digitalisation in the six Balkan countries, the findings of which were presented to the public in the presence of high-level government representatives from the region.

State Secretary Bareiß said: “Start-ups are drivers of innovation and digital structural change. Projects that foster cooperation between young and established companies can help harness the potential of innovation. I therefore welcome not only the panel discussions, but particularly the start-up camp, which has been organised by the German Development Agency GIZ.”

With four thematic panel discussions, a start-up camp, exhibitions and digital dialogues with the public, the two-day summit offers a rich variety of activities and plenty of scope for a constructively critical debate on digitalisation in the Western Balkans.

At the last Western Balkans conference in Trieste on 12 July 2017, the representative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy announced the intention to hold a digital summit for the Western Balkans. The initiative fed into the Multiannual Action Plan (MAP) to set up a common regional economic area in the Western Balkans, which was also adopted in Trieste. The Digital Summit in Skopje on 18 and 19 April thus marks the start of an intensive regional dialogue on digitalisation to be continued throughout the year, and to be the focus of another high-level meeting in Serbia in 2019.

You can find out more about the Western Balkans Digital Summit on the official summit website: www.digitalsummitwb6.com/skopje/