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Digital Economy and Society Index 2018 Report

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) for 2018 reports on the latest progress within the European Union on a raft of key performance indicators. These indicators include Connectivity, Digital Skills, Digital Public Services, and more.

European Commission

Digital Economy and Society Index 2018 - Main Takeaways

Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands have the most advanced digital economies in the EU followed by Luxembourg, Ireland, the UK, Belgium and Estonia. Romania, Greece and Italy have the lowest scores on the DESI.

In 2017, all Member States improved in the DESI. Ireland and Spain progressed the most (close to 5 points as opposed to an EU average of 3.2). On the other hand, there was low increase in Denmark and Portugal (below 2 points).

Digital Economy and Society Index 2018 - Key Findings


On Connectivity, the highest score was registered by the Netherlands followed by Luxembourg and Denmark. Greece, Croatia and Italy had the weakest performance

Fixed broadband is available to 98% of Europeans, and 80% of European homes are covered by fast broadband (at least 30 Mbps). At least 100 Mbps ultrafast connectivity is available to 58%.

4G mobile networks cover on average 91% of the EU's population (measured as the average of each mobile telecom operator's coverage within each country).

75% of European homes subscribe to fixed broadband, and one third of all homes have at least 30 Mbps. Ultrafast is emerging: 15% of homes use it already, which is twice as high as two years ago, but still well below the 2020 target of 50%.

Human Capital

In the Human Capital dimension, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden obtained the highest scores, and Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy got the lowest ones.

81% of Europeans go online regularly (at least once per week), up by 2 percentage points compared with the previous year.

43% of Europeans still do not have basic digital skills.

The EU improved slightly in the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates (19.1 graduates per 1000 people aged 20 to 29 years old in 2015, compared to 18.4. in 2013). There were 8.2 million ICT specialists in the EU in 2016, up from 7.3 million 3 years earlier.

Use of Internet

Internet users are the most active in Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. On this dimension, Romania, Italy and Bulgaria are at the bottom of the list.

The percentage of internet users that engage in various online activities, such as reading news online (72%), making video or audio calls (46%), using social networks (65%), shopping online (68%) or using online banking (61%) increased slightly over the last couple of years.

Integration of Digital Technology

Regarding the Integration of technology, businesses are the most advanced in Denmark, Finland and Ireland, and the least developed in Romania, Poland and Bulgaria.

European businesses are increasingly adopting digital technologies, such as the use of a business software for electronic information sharing (from 26% in 2013 to 34% of enterprises in 2017), sending electronic invoices (from 10% in 2013 to 18% of enterprises in 2016) or using social media to engage with customers and partners (from 15% in 2013 to 21% of enterprises in 2017).

eCommerce by SMEs also grew slightly (from 14% in 2013 to 17% of SMEs in 2017). Nevertheless, less than half of these companies sell to another EU Member State.

Digital Public Services

European champions in Digital Public Services are Finland, Estonia and Denmark, while Greece, Hungary and Romania are lagging behind.

The quality of European online public services improved with an increase of 5 points in pre-filled forms (measuring the reuse of user data already known to the public administration), 2 points in services for businesses and 2 points in online service completion.

Research & Development

In its first four years, Horizon 2020 (H2020) has allocated EUR 5.7 billion of EU funding to 1969 projects in the field of ICT, attracting 6250 organisations. SMEs make up more than 25% of the participating organisations. 95% of EU funding in H2020 is allocated to EU Member States, followed by associated countries. Third countries take part in H2020 but with little EU funding (1%).

The ICT sector value added amounted to EUR 632 billion in 2015. ICT services represented 92% of total ICT sector value added. ICT services (excluding telecoms) were the dominant sector and the only one to be expanding. The value added of the ICT sector grew much faster than the rest of the economy in real terms. At global level, the share of the ICT sector value added in EU's GDP is lagging behind the main competitors (Japan, United States, China).

R&D expenditure by business companies (BERD)  in the ICT sector amounted to EUR 32 billion in 2015. The ICT services sector was responsible for 63% (EUR 20 billion) of ICT BERD in 2015. The estimated level of publicly funded expenditure on R&D in the ICT sector in the EU reached EUR 6.4 billion in 2016. Estimated public R&D expenditure in the ICT sector was more than 25% below the necessary trend line for doubling publicly funded R&D in the ICT sector between 2007 and 2020.

Digital Economy and Society Index 2018 - Country Reporting

See country-by-country reporting on how each Member State fares in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) in 2018.