The EU and six Eastern European countries agreed to step up cooperation with a focus on reducing roaming charges, addressing cybersecurity threats and creating more jobs in digital services.
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine announced they will work more closely with the EU to adopt a road map based on the three aims, which includes a coordinated effort on addressing cybersecurity threats and expanding e-services to generate jobs in the digital industry.
The countries have been discussing the moves with the EU as part of informal Eastern Partnership talks, which are held once a year.
Expanding on the goals, the EU said it would work to create a better digital environment by amending telecoms rules, establish common roaming space, as well as support start-ups and innovation across the countries. The EU added it will provide €45 million in financial support, and €50 million in possible guarantees for digital investments.
Commenting in a statement, commissioner Johannes Hahn said the aim was to promote high-speed internet to boost economies and expand e-services, while reducing roaming tariffs among the partner countries. Tackling cybercrime and cybersecurity is “a priority”.
“We are focused on delivering concrete results, with a clear programme for cooperation until 2020,” he said.
As part of the talks, the countries held working sessions covering “sectoral cooperation in the digital economy and foreign affairs”, with a commitment to also focus on four priority areas: developing a stronger economy; stronger governance; stronger connectivity and a stronger society.