The Commission today published data from the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) for 2021, which measures EU Member States’ progress in digital competitiveness in human capital, broadband connectivity, business integration of digital technologies and digital public services. services. For the most part, the DESI 2021 report presents data from the first or second quarter of 2020 and provides an overview of key developments in the digital economy and society during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use and delivery of digital services and the results of the measures taken since then are not reflected in the data and will be more visible in the 2022 edition.
All EU Member States have made progress on digitalisation, but individual situations are mixed and, despite some convergence, the gap between the most advanced EU countries and those with the lowest scores in DESI remains important. Despite the improvements, all Member States will need to make concerted efforts to achieve the 2030 targets of Europe’s digital decade.
Margrethe vestagerExecutive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the digital age said: “The message from this year’s DESI is positive. All EU countries have made progress towards becoming more digital and competitive, but more can be done. We are therefore working with Member States to ensure that vital investments are made through the Recovery and Resilience Facility, to provide the best digital opportunities for all citizens and businesses.”
Thierry BretonCommissioner for the Internal Market, added:Setting goals for 2030 was an important step, but now we need to meet those goals. The DESI released today shows that there is progress, but it also highlights areas where we must collectively do better to ensure that citizens and businesses in the European Union, especially SMEs, can access and use advanced technologies that will make their lives better, safer and greener.”
The DESI 2021 has been adapted to take into account key policy initiatives, including “A Digital Compass for 2030: Europe Maps the Digital Decade”, which sets out Europe’s digital ambition, a vision for digital transformation and concrete targets for 2030 on on four main axes: skills, infrastructure and the digital transformation of businesses and public services.
The “Towards the Digital Decade”, the Action Program adopted in September 2021, defined a new form of governance with Member States, establishing a mechanism for annual cooperation between the EU institutions and Member States to ensure that they realize their ambitions together. The “Digital Decade Pathway” makes DESI the tool to follow the goals of the digital decade. Therefore, the DESI indicators are now structured around the 4 major axes of the digital compass.
Under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), EU Member States have committed to spend at least 20% of their national resources under the Recovery and Resilience Plan on digital and so far meet or exceed that target them that goal. The DESI country reports provide an overview of the digital investments and reforms envisaged in the national recovery and resilience plans, for the 22 plans already adopted by the Council.
Key conclusions of DESI 2021 in the 4 areas
Concerning the digital skills, 56% of the European population has at least basic skills. The data shows a slight increase in the number of information and communication technology (ICT) specialists in the workforce: in 2020, the EU had 8.4 million ICT specialists, compared to 7.8 million the year before. With 55% of companies reporting difficulties in recruiting ICT specialists in 2020, this lack of staff with advanced digital skills is also contributing to the slow digital transformation of companies in many Member States. The data clearly point to the need to strengthen the training offer and opportunities to achieve the Digital Decade Skills targets of 80% of the population having basic digital skills and there are 20 million ICT specialists in the labor market. Significant progress is expected in the coming years, partly because 17% of the planned digital investment in the recovery and resilience plans adopted so far by the Council relates to digital skills (about €20 billion out of a total of €117 billion).
The Commission also published today its Women in the Digital World Scoreboard, which confirms that there is still a significant gender gap when it comes to specialized digital skills. Only 19% of ICT specialists and about a third of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates are women.
The data on the connectivity show improvement in ‘Very High Capacity Networks’ (VHCN). In particular, it appears that these networks are available in 59% of households in the EU, compared to 50% a year ago, which is, however, still far from universal coverage by gigabit networks (target of the digital decade for 2030). In rural areas, the coverage for VHCNs has increased from 22% in 2019 to 28% in 2020. In addition, 25 Member States have allocated radio frequencies for part of the 5G spectrum, compared to 16 a year ago. 5G has been put into commercial use in 13 Member States, mainly in urban areas. The Commission also published today studies on mobile and fixed broadband prices in Europe 2020, broadband coverage until June 2020 and national broadband plans. It should be noted that 11% of the digital investments envisaged in the recovery and resilience plans adopted by the Council so far relate to connectivity (about €13 billion out of a total of €117 billion).
as for it the integration of digital technologies, the use of cloud technologies has increased significantly (26% of companies in 2020 compared to 16% in 2018). Large companies continue to lead the way in the use of digital technologies: for example, they are much more likely to use electronic information exchange via integrated management software packages (ERPs) and cloud-based software than SMEs (80% vs. 35% for ERP and 48% vs. 25% for cloud, respectively ). However, only a fraction of companies use advanced digital technologies (14% for big data, 25% for AI and 26% for the cloud). The data indicates that the current level of adoption of digital technologies is still a long way from the goals of the digital decade; the EU’s 2030 ambition is for 90% of SMEs to achieve at least a baseline level of digital intensity, compared to 60% in 2020, and for at least 75% of companies to use advanced digital technologies by 2030. Currently, only a fraction of companies are using big data, including some of the best performing, against a 75% target. It is important to note that about 15% of the digital investments envisaged in the recovery and resilience plans adopted by the Council so far relate to digital capabilities and research and development (almost €18 billion out of a total of EUR 117 billion) ).
Complementing data in the DESI report, a survey on the contribution of ICT to EU companies’ environmental sustainability actions published today found that 66% of companies surveyed said they use ICT solutions to reduce their environmental footprint. shrink.
The data on the digital public services show no significant improvement in eGovernment services yet. During the first year of the pandemic, several Member States created or improved digital platforms to offer more online services. 37% of the digital investments foreseen in the recovery and resilience plans adopted by the Council (about €43 billion out of a total of €117 billion) will be spent on digital public services, so significant improvements are expected in the coming years. The Commission has also made available the 2021 eGovernment Benchmark, which is the result of a survey of citizens from 36 European countries on their use of digital public services.
The annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) measures the progress made by EU Member States in building a digital economy and society, based on Eurostat data and specialized studies and collection methods. It helps EU Member States identify areas in which to invest and take targeted action. The DESI is also the essential tool to analyze the digital aspects in the context of the European Semester.
With a budget of EUR 723.8 billion, the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), adopted in February 2021, is the largest program under NextGenerationEU.
to know more
Questions and Answers – Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2021
Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)
Results by country in the digital field
Data Visualization Tool
DESI methodology 2021
PREDICT 2021 Report – Key Facts & Figures: Latest ICT & R&D Figures
Communication “Shaping Europe’s digital future”