Welcome Address by H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, to the Participants of the ICT 2013 Conference

06 November 2013, Last updated at, 11:14 EEST
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author: Dž. G. Barysaitė

Good Morning,

Welcome to Vilnius. Thank you for being present in person, and not just virtually. Also, I welcome those who follow the Conference online.

Let me start by saying that we are very happy to host ICT 2013 here in Vilnius because "digital" stands for young, ambitious and innovative. I hope the conference will be a strong boost to our young entrepreneurs and researchers.

Lithuania is already among leaders in embracing the digital economy.

We are well known for having an Internet speed among the fastest in the world; our mobile penetration is one of the highest in Europe. We are leaders in putting public procurement online.
Lithuania has quite a few ICT champions that are known beyond our borders, such as GetJar or Pixelmator Team.

I hope you will have time to visit the Lithuanian village and get first-hand knowledge of our successes.

Digital economy requires rules that allow fast growth and quick results. Lithuania is the place for this. And this was recognised by the World Bank in its recent report "Doing Business 2014".

The measures we took to make an easier start for businesses pushed us 10 points up in the world ranking. Now Lithuania is recognised as the best place for doing business in the Baltic region and is among top 20 in the world.
The ICT sector is very important for the whole Europe's economy.

If implemented, the Digital Single Market could add up to 4 percent to Europe's GDP by 2020. At the time when Europe faces so many challenges, we cannot afford to lose this opportunity.

Unfortunately, today Europe is still fragmented, trade and services often restricted to national boundaries.

Our businesses still encounter numerous obstacles that make cross-border e-commerce difficult or costly.

The Lithuanian Presidency is working hard to make progress on the Digital Agenda. One of our main priorities is the creation of a European e-identification system. Once in place, it will make communication and services across Europe much easier. And it is essential for the Digital Single Market.

We have to give high priority to the development of digital skills. ICT has huge potential to solve Europe's biggest problem today - youth unemployment.

Up to 900 thousand vacancies are expected in the ICT sector by 2015, while we face big shortage of work places elsewhere.

Tomorrow we launch our National Digital Coalition with an aim to spread digital literacy and prepare more ICT professionals. I congratulate this timely initiative.

Also, I would like to congratulate another national initiative "Women and Technology" announced yesterday.

It should help to reduce the digital divide by attracting more women to ICT professions.

Finally, a word about "the known unknowns". The Internet brings many benefits to our daily lives but there are many risks that diminish trust and discourage people from using it.

To increase confidence in the digital space we need close coordination in ensuring cyber-security and proper data protection rules.

On the other hand, we have to be careful not to stifle all the opportunities with overly restrictive rules and procedures.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You have come here from all over Europe and beyond to discuss current trends in the ICT field, to share new ideas.

I hope the Horizon 2020 programme and its more than 70 billion funding will help to implement the best of your thoughts.

Let us make full use of it for the benefit of all Europeans.

I wish you all fruitful discussions.

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