At the end of 2018 Croatian branch of AmCham published a position paper on the State of Play of Digitization in Croatia and Development of Artificial Intelligence. Drafting of the paper was done by AmCham experts, Oracle, Google, Microsoft and IBM while EuroNavigator and a partner company Maksima komunikacije provided the working group with an analyses of the European initiatives on AI which included the overlook of the new Digital Europe Programme, AI declaration, brief analyses of the MFF 2021-2027 and an introduction to national initiatives of Finland, France and Germany.

The position paper, which can be downloaded on AmCham site, found that Individual EU Member States cannot properly address the challenges of the digitalization and AI on their own and become global leaders. As it is essential to join forces in the EU to stay at the forefront of this technological revolution, Member States signed Declaration of cooperation on Artificial Intelligence in April 2018 and agreed to work together on the most important issues raised by AI, such as Europe’s competitiveness in the area of research and development as well as dealing with social, economic, ethical and legal questions.

The Commission is increasing its annual investments in AI (2014-2020). Around 2,6 billion euros is to be invested in AI related areas (robotics, big data, health, transportation, future and emerging technologies). Around 700 million euros under Horizon 2020 and 2,1 billion euros for private investments are available for research programs in robotics. Finally, 27 billion euros through European Structural and Investment Funds for skills development out of which European Social Fund invests 2,3 billion euros specifically in digital skills. Substantial resources for Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 will be directed towards digitalization, robotics, R&D in AI and other advanced technologies.

Croatia is lagging behind other European countries in some areas which are a prerequisite for digitization such as fast speed connectivity.

AmCham believes that the Croatian Government needs to catch up in digitization as well as urgently engage in recent developments regarding AI. Croatia needs to get involved in the ongoing process of creating the joint European approach on AI and use it to better position itself to take advantage of the benefits it offers through EU funds. Also it would be very beneficial for the country to use this opportunity and set digitalization and AI as one of its priorities for the Presidency over the EU Council in 2020.

In the experience of the previous Member States that have had the chance to preside over the EU Council, it was proven to be an invaluable learning experience that had multiple positive effects for the Member State that underwent the process. Furthermore, presiding Member States have increased their competences in the areas they chose as the priorities during their Presidency. Croatia has not set clearly its priorities for the Presidency over the EU Council 2020 in the area of economy. AmCham calls for digitalization of the society and economy in the European Union to be the single key priority during Croatian Presidency. Despite the fact that this issue was covered during some previous Presidencies, continuation is needed for the topic of such importance for the EU.

On the national level this would benefit Croatia and position it as a digitally relevant country, and enable steep increase in inflow of knowledge and latest technologies, and would help Croatian EU funds absorption capabilities

The entire position paper can be found here.