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How Digital are EU Member States?

16 June 2017

In March the European Commission released the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2017, a composite index that summarises relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU Member States (MSs) in digital competitiveness yearly.

According to the Index, overall the EU has progressed and improved its digital performance by 3 percentage points compared to last year but progress varies significantly across MSs. Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands appear to have the most advanced digital economies this year followed by Luxembourg, Belgium, the UK, Ireland, Estonia, and Austria. It is worth noticing that the top-three countries are also global leaders, ahead of South Korea, Japan and the United States.

In terms of progress compared to the previous year, Slovakia and Slovenia are the EU countries which have progressed the most. Despite some improvements, several Member States -including Poland, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania- are still lagging behind in their digital development compared to the EU average. Individual country profiles are available online.

The most relevant data from the DESI for the eCF Alliance are the ones referring to the Human Capital and Digital Skills dimension, which measures the availability of a labour force with the skills needed by the digital society. Such skills go from basic user skills (interact online and consume digital goods and services), to advanced skills that empower the workforce to seize the opportunities offered by technology for enhanced productivity and economic growth.

The DESI 2017 shows that the EU has more graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) than before (19 graduates per 1,000 people in their 20s) and that there are more ICT specialists in the workforce (3.6% in 2015 as opposed to 3.2% in 2012). However almost half of Europeans (44%) still lack basic digital skills such as using a mailbox, editing tools or installing new devices. In the Human Capital dimension, Denmark, Luxembourg Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands obtained the highest scores, whilst Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy got the lowest ones.

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