Jonathan Knott

Former British ambassador to Hungary, Budapest

Part of UK in Hungary

18th March 2015 Budapest, Hungary

Innovation and Competitiveness in the European Digital Single Market

Guest blog by Dr. Zoltán Csedő, Member of the Board, Hungarian Association of British Alumni, and Managing Partner, Innotica Group

The British Embassy in Budapest and the Hungarian Association of British Alumni launched a unique initiative two years ago: to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Chevening Scholarship Fund, we engaged in reconnecting British alumni within Visegrad Four (V4) countries, encouraging them to share their knowledge for the benefit of society, to boost innovation and competitiveness within Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

As part of our knowledge sharing initiative, V4 British alumni community and British Embassies of Budapest, Bratislava, Prague and Warsaw have organized a webinar focusing on Innovation and Competitiveness in the European Digital Single Market on the 17th of March. 15 government officials, business leaders and industry experts from V4 countries and the UK joined our speaker panel to discuss the UK’s vision of the EU’s digital economy.

HM Ambassador Jonathan Knott in his opening remarks said: “Our vision for the digital single market is one which is digital by default, where it is even easier to operate online across Europe than it is to do things offline in a single state. Where online businesses go through administrative processes once, not 28 times, and where football fans can stream matches they’ve already paid for wherever they go.”


To address the challenges of Digital Single Market is key priority of current Slovak Presidency of Visegrad Co-operation. Detailed policy recommendations target start-ups and SMEs, e-commerce, data protection and data driven economy, as well as digital infrastructure development.

The Czech Republic is going to take over the Presidency of Visegrad Four Co-operation in July. Digital Single Market related priorities, however, would be in focus. The Czech Government representative mentioned the support of start-ups, borderless e-commerce, data protection, digital infrastructure, e-government and e-skills development as key areas.

A Ministry of Administration and Digitalization was established in Poland in 2011, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to priorities of Digital Single Market. The Digital Poland Operational Program emphasizes the importance of increasing trust in citizens and their encouragement to join digital initiatives, while assuring them full control over their personal data.

The Hungarian National Info-communication Strategy has four pillars: digital infrastructure, digital competencies, digital economy and digital state, while also focusing on horizontal impacts such as R&D, security or e-inclusion. More than 40 government services should be available for online use by 2020.

V4 and UK business leaders and industry professionals raised the importance of adapting corporate strategies to digital economy, while technology would become part of each individual element of the value chain.

Knowledge sharing and knowledge management are also essential to close the gaps of innovation and competitiveness in the Digital Single Market. Open-source knowledge sharing technologies, sharing best practices and cultural change are key development priorities.

Significant differences between European and US innovation cultures were also pointed out. The EU should engage in realizing the full potential of its huge market of 500 million citizens, and develop its SME sector to be more innovative.

Policy recommendations also targeted an increased focus on SMEs, open source technologies and a more flexible approach in legislation, since many regulations became outdated due to dynamic changes in the market. Costs of data protection regulations, their complex effect on corporate services and user experience and data usage for innovations have also been debated.

Government officials, business leaders and industry experts from V4 countries all shared the UK’s vision of the EU’s digital economy. Mobility and security were both considered key priority areas: a Europe for digital consumers, as well as innovation through competition, an economy for digital entrepreneurs.

Video: The UK vision for the EU’s digital economy

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the British government.

About Jonathan Knott

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take up his post. He left this post on April…

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to
Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take
up his post. He left this post on April 2015.
He has previously held a variety of diplomatic posts at home and
abroad, several with a particular focus on commercial and corporate
finance issues. Jonathan has served in a number of positions in the
British Diplomatic Service since joining in 1988:
Before his appointment was Deputy Head of Mission and Director for Trade and Investment in South Korea from 2008 to 2011.Between 2005 and 2008 he held the post of Deputy Finance Director in the FCO.From 2000 to 2005 he served as First Secretary (Trade, Corporate Affairs and Finance Negotiator) in UKDel OECD Paris.From 1996 to 2000 he was First Secretary (Head of Political/Economic/Aid Section) in Mexico.From 1995 to 1996 he worked in the FCO as Deputy European Correspondent at the EU Directorate.Between 1991 and 1995 he served as Third later Second Secretary (Political / Press and Public Affairs) in Havana.From 1990 to 1991 he was Desk Officer in the FCO’s First Gulf War Emergency Unit.Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as Desk Officer in the FCO in the Anti Drugs Cooperation Department.
Jonathan holds an MA in law from Oxford University, and he is a
member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He speaks
English, French, Spanish and Hungarian. He is married to Angela Susan
Knott and has one daughter and two sons.

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