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Minister Boštjan Koritnik at meeting with European Commissioner Breton: “The situation during the pandemic has shown us all how important digital tools really are”

The Minister of Public Administration Boštjan Koritnik met with the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton in Brussels today. They talked about the digitalization process in Slovenia, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country's activities in the digital and telecommunications field, 5G technology, Slovenia's priorities during the EU Council presidency in the field of digitalization and data management and Slovenian activities in the field of artificial intelligence.

standing in front of the European flag

Minister Boštjan Koritnik and European Commissioner Thierry Breton | Author Lukasz Kobus/Evropska komisija

The visit is part of Slovenia's preparations for the presidency to the EU Council, which will take place in the second half of 2021, and one of the key topics will be the field of digitalisation. “Unfortunately, I find that the Ministry of Public Administration has paid too little attention to the field of digitalisation and new technologies in the last two years. If in 2016 the European Commission declared Slovenia the fastest growing digital society in the European Union in terms of progress and development, we have fallen asleep in the last year and a half in this area. I want to change this absolutely, digitalisation is the priority of the mandate, so I also wanted to meet in person with Commissioner Breton”, said Minister Koritnik during the visit.

The Minister pointed out that during the presidency Slovenia will focus mainly on artificial intelligence and the introduction of advanced technologies in society. However, we are already paying special attention to cyber security and the EU's resilience to large-scale cyber-attacks. "In the context of a coordinated EU approach, Slovenia has also prepared a National Program for the Promotion of the Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Republic of Slovenia until 2025, which will be the basis for implementing activities at national, EU and international levels," he said. adding that he also wants to speed up the digitalisation of services in public administration.

The interlocutors also paid special attention to the introduction of 5G technologies. If we want to keep up with other European and global countries, the introduction of new technologies is a fundamental building block of the future. "One of Slovenia's priorities is to ensure the security of 5G networks, as they will be the future backbone of our companies and economies. This is also the reason why Slovenia has signed a joint statement on 5G security with the United States”, the minister added. The composition of the Council of Ministers for Public Administration for the Development of 5G Technology in Slovenia is expected to be presented by the end of October, in which experts in the field of new technology development will be recognized. However, according to the Minister, there will certainly be no experts from the Google forums in the world.

Minister Koritnik also presented to the Commissioner the operation of the voluntary mobile application #OstaniZdrav, which has so far been downloaded by more than 100,000 citizens. The Minister also expressed disappointment that the EU did not approach the development of a single mobile application for all Member States in the fight against the Covid-19 virus, which would significantly increase the efficiency of this tool due to the possibility of cross-border operation. However, the Minister offered Commissioner Breton the opportunity for Slovenia, if the EU decides to do so, to be one of the first countries to be involved in testing the cross-border operation of such an application.