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Europe’s top digital countries in 2017 vs rest of the world

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

europe lightThe Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2017 revealed the top digital countries in the European Union and the International DESI (I-DESI) evaluates the performance of both the individual EU countries and the EU as a whole in comparison to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.

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.

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

In 2016, all Member States improved on the DESI. Slovakia and Slovenia progressed the most (more than 0.04 as opposed to an EU average of 0.028). On the other hand, there was low increase in Portugal, Latvia and Germany (below 0.02).

The DESI is composed of five principal policy areas which regroup overall 31 indicators:

1 Connectivity Fixed broadband, mobile broadband, broadband speed and prices
2 Human capital Basic skills and internet use, advanced skills and development
3 Use of internet Citizens' use of content, communication and online transactions
4 Integration of digital technology Business digitisation and e-commerce
5 Digital public services eGovernment

In connectivity the results show that 74% of European homes subscribe to fixed broadband, and over one third of these connections are high-speed. The number of high-speed subscriptions went up by 74% in two years. 4G mobile networks cover on average 84% of the EU's population (measured as the average of each mobile telecom operator's coverage within each country).

Germany, Latvia, Sweden and Lithuania have consistently scored best since 2013 on the percentage of harmonised spectrum effectively assigned to wireless broadband. These countries all have higher than average 4G coverage. This is why it is vital that Member States follow a policy of getting additional spectrum rapidly into the market. This is also essential in order to meet strategic connectivity objectives for 2025:

1. All main socio-economic drivers, such as schools, universities, research centres, transport hubs, all providers of public services such as hospitals and administrations, and enterprises relying on digital technologies, should have access to extremely high - gigabit - connectivity (allowing users to download/upload 1 gigabit of data per second).

2. All European households, rural or urban, should have access to connectivity offering a download speed of at least 100 Mbps, which can be upgraded to Gbps.

3. All urban areas as well as major roads and railways should have uninterrupted 5G coverage, the fifth generation of wireless communication systems. As an interim target, 5G should be commercially available in at least one major city in each EU Member State by 2020.

The Human Capital dimension combines basic digital skills of the population and their usage of internet. Additionally, it takes into account advanced skills, such as the number of ICT specialists, and the graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The results show that while internet usage is on rise, 44% of Europeans still lack basic digital skills.

Use of Internet analyses a wide range of activities people may do online. The percentage of internet users that read news online (70%), use the internet to perform video or audio calls (39%), use social networks (63%), shop online (66%) or use online banking (59%) increased slightly over the last couple of years.

Looking at the Integration of Digital Technology, European businesses are increasingly adopting digital technologies, such as the use of a business software for electronic information sharing (from 26% in 2013 to 36% of enterprises in 2015), sending electronic invoices (from 11% in 2014 to 18% of enterprises in 2016) or using social media to engage with customers and partners (from 14% in 2013 to 20% of enterprises in 2016).

More and increasingly sophisticated public services are available online. 34% of internet users returned filled forms to the public administration online instead of handing in a paper copy (up from 27% in 2013).

How does the EU compare to other digitised countries worldwide?

In May 2016, the Commission published data comparing the digital performance of EU countries with 15 non-EU countries. The International DESI (I-DESI) evaluates the performance of both the individual EU countries and the EU as a whole in comparison to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.

The results show that the top countries in Europe are also leading on the global stage. The three top performing countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden) are closely followed by South Korea, United States and Japan. At the same time the EU average is significantly lower.

i desi ranking2017

It is important to note that the I-DESI is built on a slightly different set of indicators than DESI due to the fact that some DESI indicators are not available in non-EU countries. As a result, the I-DESI rankings and scores are slightly different to those of the DESI.

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