On April 20th, Belgium's Digital Agenda minister, Alexander De Croo, outlined a strategy for improving the digital economy and positioning the country as one of the Top 3 European regions by 2020.

The plan, mostly based on the Belgian Startup Manifesto presented last month, has five priorities aimed to boost the digital economy and expand the prospect of jobs and growth. These are the key aspects of Digital Belgium:

Digital economy

With a major focus on entrepreneurs, the proposal is to offer a tax shelter for startups and fiscal incentives for crowd funding. Lower wage costs and an investment allowance for digital investments also represent ways of providing support. Other key measures are a digital-friendly legislation that enables businesses to operate in a legally stable framework, an e-Commerce platform, mandatory electronic invoicing for suppliers, e-signature to ensure confidential online transactions and best practices for e-health industry.

Digital infrastructure

The plan focuses on a state-of-the-art network infrastructure, which is ready to fully exploit the ‘internet of things’ and ‘big data’. This includes stimulating ultra-fast internet and providing dynamic telecommunication markets.

Digital Skills and Jobs

In the future, nine out of ten jobs will require digital skills. Digital Belgium will provide citizens with the opportunity to take advantage of the necessary tools and resources. Workshops targeted to adults and children, measures to achieve digital inclusion and mobile internet for everyone, are some of the most important goals.

Digital confidence and digital security

In order to be able to grow, the digital economy needs confidence and security. That means respecting rights and tackling illegal practices. Once citizens and businesses have full confidence that their data is safe online, the digital economy will achieve its full potential.

Digital government

The scheme will enable citizens to conduct all communication with the government digitally by 2020 and to be able to do so using a user-friendly channel.

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By Gabriela Fernández Scala