"The road to a competitive economy by 2030" - the quintessence of the conclusions submitted during the 15th TIME Economic Forum
In accordance with the program assumptions, all presentations and discussion panels during the 15th TIME Economic Forum on March 14-15, 2023. were subordinated to the fulfillment of its main slogan and message, i.e. the search and implementation of the "Road to a competitive economy by 2030".
From a sectoral perspective, this meant focusing attention on such sectors of the national and European economy as, above all, energy, telecommunications, finance and media. Horizontally, the topics of debate included the feasibility of Polish economic strategies, digitization and digital transformation of the economy, infrastructure investments, general and sectoral regulations, cybersecurity, development of Internet access and ICT technologies, human resources for the modern economy, ESG, the ability of the banking sector to finance the economy and its challenges.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki during the opening of this year's FG TIME about the requests and demands coming to the Government from the Forum participants, we present their most important content below. They will be gathered together in a more extensive and justified form - as in previous years - in a final study ready within about a month after the end of the Forum.
In the opinion of approximately 800 business representatives from sectors related to ICT technologies gathered at the Forum, the experience of the past 20 years indicates the ease of preparing various types of industry-specific studies or more general economic strategies in the country. However, this "ease", combined with the short time needed to create these strategies and in a limited circle of experts, and without transparent consultations with interested groups, results in these documents focusing on the description of the past instead of the future. As a result, by the date of publication or acceptance of these strategies, they are largely out of date. And even if they are relatively up-to-date, the process of their implementation is usually imperfect and is easily suspended or ended for political reasons. Only eliminating the identified weaknesses in the development and implementation of strategies can lead to a change in the current state of affairs.
Continuing the digitization and digital transformation of the Polish economy and society is a necessary and indispensable condition both for overcoming the current economic and political perturbations and for achieving the long-term goals set by the European Union and implemented within the EU single market. This involves many challenges, both known and likely to arise. Firstly, Poland's presence and persistence in the structures of the European Union must be clearly defined. This fact determines the acceptance of EU values and legal regulations and their adaptation in national law without their distortions caused by ideological and political reasons. It is necessary to unblock EU financial resources that can be obtained for investments. And this in a situation of, on the one hand, currently high inflation and limited capabilities of the Polish banking sector to finance necessary structural investments, such as fiber optic networks, and on the other hand, the priority of a strictly applied principle of end consumer protection at the expense of entrepreneurs who are affected by the increase in many costs, including bills for energy.
With regard to the energy sector, there is no doubt that it should be based on renewable energy sources as quickly as possible and to the greatest extent possible, in line with the requirements and goals of the EU climate policy. At the same time, during the transitional period, efforts should be made to reduce energy prices in longer periods and make them stable, and to provide support instruments for business entities similar to those addressed to retail customers. Taking into account the sensitivity of the topic of liquidation of traditional mining industries and conventional energy, it is important, both for social and economic reasons, to replace the narrative about their liquidation with an indication of their adaptation to the new reality of Industry 4.0. For this purpose, both their highly qualified staff (electricians, mechatronics, IT specialists, etc.) and the facilities themselves (as warehouses, carriers of many sensors and devices, infrastructure nodes, etc.) have been built over decades.
Continuing the digitization and digitization process, including expanding the pool of available public services, remains a very important problem in Poland. Regardless of the strategies and measures of progress adopted in this area, the key issue is the currently visible, but even more dangerous in the near future, lack of specialists competent in ITC technologies. Counteracting it is not only a matter of having an appropriate scope of teaching science, especially mathematics, in primary and secondary schools, as well as expanding higher education in this area. Due to the ongoing negative demographic processes in Poland, it is essential that our country and society open up to thousands of migrants in a way that does not disqualify them for reasons such as religion or gender.
In the conditions of a free market economy and a democratic state system, it is of great importance to find a balance between the interests of the state, represented by numerous government institutions and market regulators, and the business community, represented by, among others, by national chambers of commerce such as the National Chamber of Commerce for Electronics and Telecommunications and others with 30 years of experience and which have been the organizers of the TIME Economic Forum for years. Dialogue and cooperation are the basis, which means that, among others: business representatives should be involved in work on subsequent strategies or in adapting EU regulations to national law already at the stage of creating the assumptions of these documents, and not only in giving opinions on them after the stage of their creation in usually narrow groups of ministerial authors. Another problem is the often sudden and non-transparent legislative process, too short assumed implementation periods for the set goals, and sudden changes in already adopted legislation.
Issues such as cybersecurity, the importance of which and the scale of recorded threats are constantly growing, and, more recently, the requirements for ESG analysis and reporting, which have a direct impact on the level of competitiveness of companies, both in the country and in relations with foreign partners, remain an important issue for all industries.
To sum up - during the 15th TIME Economic Forum, we took another step towards achieving our main goal, which is to stimulate the interest of digital enterprises in the EU industrial policy. The EU decision establishing the political agenda "Roads to the Digital Decade 2030" gives EU high-technology enterprises the opportunity to co-decide on the shape of National Strategic Action Plans. Business organizations participating in the meeting actively supported the digitalization priorities contained therein, translating them into the goals of the Polish digitalization plan. A proposal was submitted to establish an advisory council necessary to develop a list of multi-country project proposals. Members of the Management Boards of organizations - FG TIME partners - were invited to participate in the ZVEI (German organization of digital enterprises) meetings, scheduled for May 23-24 this year. We also decided to start work aimed at creating a bilateral consultative council consisting of Polish and German business organizations .
We plan to create a consultative body whose task will be to gather the first group of enterprises interested in participating in multi-country projects. The Decision Program is addressed to all enterprises planning to digitize their technologies, products and business models. Many participants of the meeting referred to the decision announced in February this year. industrial development and modernization plan " A Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age ". The goals and recommendations formulated therein will influence the selection of areas of support for projects implemented under EDIC (European Digital Infrastructure Consortia).
During the 15th FG TIME, it once again turned out that Polish digital enterprises perceive the Green Deal and related documents as an ordered set of long-term goals. They pose a great challenge to most companies. The EU economy is mostly based on local companies, mainly from the SME sector. Their capital resources and business models do not allow for planning investments taking into account such long-term goals. The lack of support compensating for these losses and the lack of conditions for the profitability of investments in zero-emission technologies may lead to a decline in the productivity and competitiveness of enterprises.
The Polish economy is a great beneficiary of the EU single market, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. We postulate that the main goal of the Polish government's EU policy should be to create equal economic law for all entities operating in the EU single market.