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Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2019: Questions and Answers

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 11 juni 2019.

I - Results of DESI 2019

What is the Digital Economy and Society Index?

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is a composite index published every year by the European Commission since 2014, measuring the progress of EU countries towards a digital economy and society. It brings together a set of relevant indicators on Europe's current digital policy mix.

The DESI is composed of five principal policy areas, which regroup 34 indicators overall:


1 Connectivity

Fixed broadband, mobile broadband, fast and ultrafast broadband and prices

2 Human capital

Internet user skills and advanced skills

3 Use of internet

Citizens' use of internet services and online transactions

4 Integration of digital technology

Business digitisation and e-commerce

5 Digital public services

e-Government and e-health

Here are the results for the 2019 DESI:

This year's edition shows that all Member States improved in the DESI results. Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark scored the highest and are among the global leaders in digitalisation. They are followed by the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Ireland, Estonia and Belgium. Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus and Spain have made the most progress (by more than 15 points) over the last five years.

How do the Member States perform on the five dimensions of the index?

Regarding connectivity to broadband networks Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden show the highest overall levels of connectivity.

Fixed broadband is available to 97% of Europeans, and 83% of European homes are covered by fast broadband (at least 30 Mbps). Ultrafast connectivity - measured for the first time by DESI (at least 100 Mbps) - is available to 60% of Europeans.

Average 4G mobile coverage stands at 94% of the EU population (up from 85% in 2016), while there are 96 mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people (up from 67 in 2014).

77% of European homes subscribe to fixed broadband, and 41% of all homes have at least 30 Mbps. The results also show that having an ultrafast broadband connection is increasingly more common. 20% of homes subscribe to ultrafast broadband, which is four times higher than in 2014.

In terms of 5G readiness, 12 Member States have already assigned parts of the spectrum of 5G pioneer bands.

Regarding the Human capital dimension, 43% of Europeans still lack basic digital skills. There were 8.4 million ICT specialists in the EU in 2017, growing from 7.5 million 3 years earlier. Finland, Sweden and Luxembourg have the highest scores in this dimension.

83% of Europeans go online regularly (at least once a week). This is 2 points more than in the previous year. The percentage of internet users engaging in various online activities has overall slightly increased in comparison to the 2018 DESI results. 81% of internet users listen to music, watch videos or play games online, 72% of internet users read news online, 49% make video or audio calls, 65%, use social networks, 69% shop online and 64% use online banking.

As for the Integration of technology, European businesses are increasingly adopting digital technologies. This includes the use of business software for sharing electronic information (from 26% in 2013 to 34% of enterprises in 2017), cloud computing (from 11% in 2014 to 18% of enterprises in 2018) or using social media to engage with customers and partners (from 15% in 2013 to 21% of enterprises in 2017). This trend is most advanced in Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The use of e-Commerce in SMEs also grew slightly (from 14% in 2013 to 17% of SMEs in 2017). Nevertheless, less than a half of those trading online sell to other EU Member States.

64% of internet users submitting forms to their public administration used the online channel in 2018 (57% in 2014). While 18% of people use online health services (2017), 50% of general practitioners used electronic prescriptions in 2018, which is almost twice as high as in 2013 (27%). 43% of general practitioners exchange medical data with hospitals or specialists, up from 36% in 2013.The European champions in digital public services are Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands.

How does the EU compare to other digitised countries worldwide?

The Commission compares the digital performance of EU countries with 17 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, Chile, China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.

The top four EU countries (Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark) are among the global leaders. They are just behind Korea and have higher scores than the United States and Japan. At the same time, however, the comparison shows that the EU's average in digital performance is significantly lower than the aforementioned.

I-DESI includes the same five dimensions as the DESI, but it is built on a slightly different set of indicators due to some of the DESI indicators not being available in non-EU countries. As a result, the I-DESI rankings and scores are slightly different to those of the DESI.

II - DESI methodology

Where does the data come from?

Where does the data come from? The majority of DESI indicators come from the surveys of Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Some broadband indicators are collected by the Commission services from the Member States through the Communications Committee. Other indicators are derived from studies prepared for the Commission (e.g. some e-government, e-health and broadband indicators). See the full list of indicators, exact definitions and sources.

How is the DESI score calculated?

To calculate a country's overall score, each set and subset of indicators were given a specific weighting by European Commission experts. Connectivity and digital skills ('human capital'), each contribute to 25% of the total score. Integration of digital technology accounts for 20%, since the use of ICT by the business sector is one of the most important drivers of growth. Finally, the use of internet services by citizens and digital public services dimensions each contribute to 15%. For more details, see the DESI methodological note.

What has changed in the DESI compared to 2018?

To improve the methodology and take into account the latest technological developments, a number of changes were made in the 2019 DESI. The table below presents the new indicators:





1 Connectivity

1b Mobile broadband

1b3 5G readiness

2 Human capital

2a Internet user skills

2a2 Above basic digital skills

2 Human capital

2a Internet user skills

2a3 At least basic software skills

2 Human capital

2b Advanced skills and development

2b2 Female ICT specialists

2 Human capital

2b Advanced skills and development

2b3 ICT graduates

3 Use of internet services

3a Internet use

3a1 People who never used the internet

3 Use of internet services

3b Activities online

3b6 Professional social networks

3 Use of internet services

3b Activities online

3b7 Doing an online course

3 Use of internet services

3b Activities online

3b8 Online consultations and voting

3 Use of internet services

3c Transactions

3c3 Selling online

4 Integration of digital technology

4a Business digitisation

4a3 Big data

5 Digital public services

5b e-Health

5b2 Medical data exchange

5 Digital public services

5b e-Health

5b3 e-Prescription

How did the improved methodology affect the ranking of last year?

As a result of the improved methodology, the rankings for the previous years have slightly changed.

For More Information

Press release

2019 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)



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