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Time to speed up EU's Net power

Posted by Nick Prag at 25 February 2016, 22:40 CET |
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How digital are we? The European Commission brought out its Digital Economy and Society Index for 2016 (DESI) this week with a favourable report of progress since last year, but warning that a slowdown in the pace of progress threatened Europe's standing at the top table of the most digitalised countries in the world.

The report shows there has been improvement in areas such as connectivity and digital skills, as well as in public services. But the Commission says there is a need for renewed action, at EU and national levels, to remove the obstacles that prevent the EU Member States from taking advantage of digital opportunities.

The DESI looks at five key policy areas, including connectivity - how widespread, fast and affordable broadband is; Capital/Digital Skills - the digital skills of the population and workforce; Use of Internet - the use of online activities from news to banking or shopping - Integration of Digital Technology - how businesses integrate key digital technologies, such as e-invoices, cloud services, e-commerce, etc. - and Digital Public Services.

Some countries are doing particularly well, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Finland. Progress is starting to slow in countries such as the UK, Ireland and Luxembourg. And lagging below the EU average, are the likes of France, the Czech Republic and Poland.

On the world stage, Denmark, Finland and Norway are world leaders as regards digital public services; European countries also lead the way in the adoption of digital technologies by businesses, compared to Japan and South Korea; but when it comes to connectivity, South Korea is world leader.

While highlighting improvements, the results also show that the pace of progress is slowing down. Action is needed, says the Commission, both at the EU and national levels, to remove the obstacles which prevent Member States from fully benefiting from digital opportunities,

These obstacles include a lack of high-speed internet coverage or cross-border e-government, and difficulties in shopping and selling across borders.

The report shows that, if the EU wants to catch up Japan, the USA and South Korea, there is little room for complacency.

The Commission is now promising, over 2016, to present a number of initiatives to remove the obstacles which prevent the EU and its Member States to make the most of digital opportunities. It will start in May, with proposals to boost e-commerce and connectivity.

The Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI) webpage

Digital Economy and Society Index progress by country

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.