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Italy, Poland and Greece made the most progress over the last 5 years

DESI 2022: Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, the most EU advanced digital economies, followed by Ireland, Malta and Spain

Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden have the most advanced digital economies in the EU, followed by Ireland, Malta and Spain. Romania, Bulgaria and Greece have the lowest DESI scores. The data indicates that Italy, Poland and Greece made the most progress over the last 5 years, said European Commission Questions in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2022

Eu According to the 2022 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), during the Covid pandemic, Member States have been advancing in their digitalisation efforts but still struggle to close the gaps in digital skills, the digital transformation of SMEs, and the roll-out of advanced 5G networks. The Recovery and Resilience Facility, with about €127 billion dedicated to reforms and investments in the area of digital, offers an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the digital transformation, which the EU and its Member States cannot afford to miss.

Overall progress but digital skills, SMEs and 5G networks lag behind

The findings show that while most of the Member States are making progress in their digital transformation, the adoption of key digital technologies by businesses, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data remains low. Efforts need to be stepped up to ensure the full deployment of connectivity infrastructure (notably 5G) that is required for highly innovative services and applications. Digital skills is another important area where Member States need to make bigger progress.

Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Digital transition is accelerating. Most Member States are progressing in building resilient digital societies and economies. Since the start of the pandemic we have made significant efforts to support Member States in the transition. Be that through the Recovery and Resilience Plans, EU Budget or, more recently also through the Structured Dialogue on Digital Education and Skills. Because we need to make the most of the investments and reforms necessary to meet the Digital Decade targets in 2030. So change must happen already now.

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added: “We are making progress in the EU towards our digital targets, and we must continue our efforts to make the EU a global leader in the technology race. The DESI shows where we need to further strengthen our work, for example in spurring digitisation of our industry, including SMEs. We need to step up the efforts to make sure that every SME, business, and industry in the EU have the best digital solutions available to them and have access to a world-class digital connectivity infrastructure.”

The Commission’s proposal on the Path to the Digital Decadeagreed upon by the European Parliament and EU Member States, will facilitate deeper collaboration between Member States and the EU to advance in all dimensions covered by the DESI. It provides a framework for Member States to undertake joint commitments and establish multi-country projects that will reinforce their collective strength and resilience in the global context.

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is an annual report published by the European Commission that monitors the progress of EU Member States on their digital development. This report includes country profiles, which help Member States identify areas for priority action, as well as thematic chapters providing an EU-level analysis in the four principal policy areas: human capital, connectivity, integration of digital technology, and digital public services. In addition, the DESI country reports provide an assessment of national digital policies and an overview of the digital investments and reforms in the Recovery and Resilience Plans.

What is the link between DESI and the Digital Decade? The proposed Path to the Digital Decade Policy Programme will use DESI indicators to monitor progress towards the 2030 targets. The targets set out in the proposed Digital Decade Policy Programme are organised under four cardinal points: a digitally skilled population and highly skilled digital professionals, secure and sustainable digital infrastructures, the digital transformation of businesses, and the digitalisation of public services. The structure of the DESI and indicators have been adapted accordingly. After the policy programme enters into force, which is expected by the end of 2022, the data from the DESI will feed into an annual report on the ‘State of the Digital Decade’. This report will provide a comprehensive overview and assessment of the digital transformation in the EU.

In the area of digital skills, only 54% of people have at least basic digital skills, while 87% of people use the internet at least once a week (1 percentage point more than the previous year)

Main findings of DESI 2022 in the 4 policy areas. In the area of digital skills, only 54% of people have at least basic digital skills, while 87% of people use the internet at least once a week (1 percentage point more than the previous year). The target of the Path to the Digital Decade is that by 2030, at least 80% of citizens have at least basic digital skills. The expectation that an increased use of digital tools during the pandemic would have driven digital literacy, has not yet materialised. Evidence shows that it is not enough to have access to the internet in order to acquire the appropriate skills and fully benefit from digital tools. Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden are the most advanced on skills, while Romania and Bulgaria are faced with notable gaps. In parallel, most jobs today require digital skills, from basic to advanced, and this shortage is a major bottleneck holding back EU enterprises from advancing in the digital economy.

Connectivity. The data on connectivity shows that while the EU has full coverage of basic broadband infrastructure, 70% of households can benefit from fixed very high capacity networks (VHCN) that have the potential of offering gigabit speeds, which is an increase of 10 percentage points in comparison to the year before. 50% are now covered by fibre networks (FTTP), up from 43% the previous year. Despite some overall progress in 2021, a significant urban-rural divide persists in many Member States. Whereas Malta, Luxembourg, Denmark, Spain, Latvia, the Netherlands and Portugal are the most advanced Member States on total VHCN coverage (all with more than 90% of homes covered), by contrast, in Greece, only 1 in 5 households have access to VHCN. 5G coverage of populated areas grew substantially to 66% in 2021, compared to 14% in the previous year, achieving very high levels in countries such as Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany. However, depending on spectrum bands used, performance levels vary in terms of speed and capacity. The Path to the Digital Decade sets the target that by 2030, all end-users at a fixed location (such as households and businesses) should be covered by a gigabit network and all populated areas covered by next generation-wireless high-speed networks of at least 5G equivalent performance.

Only 55% of SMEs have at least a basic level in the adoption of digital technologies, with significant differences across Member States

Integration of digital technologies. Regarding the integration of digital technologies, the latest data shows that in 2021, only 55% of SMEs have at least a basic level in the adoption of digital technologies, with significant differences across Member States (from 86% in Sweden and 82% in Finland to 25% in Bulgaria and 22% in Romania). To reach the Digital Decade target, at least 90% of SMEs in the EU should have a basic level of digital intensity by 2030. Basic digital intensity means that an enterprise uses at least 4 of 12 selected digital technologies (such as using cloud, an enterprise resource planning software, AI, social media and selling online). The data indicates that businesses are becoming more and more digitalist the use of advanced digital technologies remains low and varies depending on the technology considered. While the use of cloud computing reached 34% of EU enterprises in 2021, the uptake of big data analytics and AI technologies remains substantially more limited: only 8% of EU enterprises used AI (in 2021) and 14% big data (in 2020). Following the political agreement on the Path to the Digital Decade, at least 75% of companies should take up either AI, cloud or big data technologies by 2030.

Digital public services. In the area of digital public services, DESI monitors the online provision of public services by scoring Member States on whether or not it is possible to complete each step of key services (such as registering or rescheduling an appointment at a hospital, appealing against a court decision, requesting an environmental permit and setting up a business) completely online, and the extent to which they are available cross-border. The scores (describing how fully the services are provided online) reached 75 out of 100 for digital public services for citizens and 82 out of 100 for businesses. Estonia, Denmark, Finland and Malta have the highest scores for digital public services in DESI, while Romania and Greece have the lowest. The Path to the Digital Decade sets the target that all key public services for citizens and businesses should be fully online by 2030. Despite the progress, there is ample room for improvement as regards the availability of cross-border digital public services, as in comparison to the provision of domestic digital public services, the scores for cross-border services are 13 points lower for citizens and 14 points lower for business services.

What are the sources of data?. The majority of DESI indicators come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Some broadband indicators are collected by the services of the European Commission from the Member States through the Communications Committee. Other indicators, such as some e-government and broadband indicators, are based on data derived from studies prepared for the Commission. The full list of indicators, exact definitions and sources is available here.

More information: Press release – Digital Economy and Society Index 2022: overall progress but digital skills, SMEs and 5G networks lag behind. Digital Economy and Society Index Performance of individual member states. Methodological note . 2022 PREDICT study in ICT and R&D

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