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How digital is the European Union?

6 June 2018

The results of DESI 2018 are available. The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is a composite index that summarises relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU member states in digital competitiveness.

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) has been updated last month with the latest digital performance indicators from all the EU Member States. As per this composite index, the EU improved its DESI score by an average of 3.2 points year-on-year. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands remain the most advanced digital economies in the EU followed by Luxembourg, Ireland, the UK, Belgium and Estonia. Spain and Ireland made the best progression this year: almost 5 points increase compared to last year. Similarly to 2017 Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and Italy rank lowest on the DESI.


The DESI indicator aggregates Member States’ data related to the broadband infrastructure, the human capital and digital skills, the use of internet services by citizens, the digitisation of businesses, e-commerce, and public services.


The most relevant indicator for eCF Alliance refers to the Human Capital dimension which measures the digital skills needed to take advantage of the job opportunities offered by the digital economy. This indicator is broken down into two sub-indicators: 'basic skills and usage' and 'advanced skills and development'. The former includes indicators on internet use by individuals and basic digital skills. The latter includes indicators on ICT specialist employment and graduates in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. In this respect, the Netherlands, Sweden and Luxembourg are the top performers in basic skills and usage whereas Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the UK had the highest scores in advanced skills and development. Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy have the lowest score overall on DESI's Human Capital dimension.


Even though 43% of Europeans still do not have basic digital skills, 81% of Europeans go online regularly (up by 2%) and the number of graduates in STEM improved slightly. Confirming the positive trend 8.2 million persons were employed as ICT specialists in the EU in 2016. This amounts to about 3.7 % of total employment.


Nonetheless the gap between demand and supply of ICT specialists in the EU is expected to persist and, as suggested also by the growing numbers of vacancies, the employment potential of specialised ICT skills remains underexploited.

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