is one of those areas for which many strategies have been written and many
goals set. The goals are more ambitious with each strategy, and the bar is set
higher. Since 2014, the European Commission has been monitoring Member States’
digital progress with the help of a unique index, known by its acronym, DESI.
What is DESI?
DESI is the
Digital Economy and Society Index, which in the past included analysis
for five main areas, Connectivity, Human capital, Use of the internet,
Integration of digital technology, and Digital public services.
the European Commission has adjusted DESI to reflect two major policy
initiatives set to have an impact on the digital transformation in the European
Union in the coming years – the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), in
which the EU Member States have committed to invest at least 20% of their
national funds from the Recovery and Resilience Plan for the Digital Agenda,
and the Digital Decade Compass.
DESI measures human capital (knowledge and skills), broadband connectivity, the
integration of digital technologies by companies, and the digitalisation of
DESI tell us about Slovenia?
to the index, Slovenia ranks 13th among the 27 EU Member States in
2021. The country performs well in the field of connectivity. Next-generation
broadband access covers 88% of households, close to the EU average. Still, it
is worth noting that this percentage is significantly lower in rural areas. 66%
of households in Slovenia have access to Very High-Capacity Network (VHCN).
remains just below the EU average in terms of human capital. 55% of people aged
16 – 74 years have at least basic digital skills. ICT specialists comprise 4.4%
of the workforce, while only 17% of all ICT specialists are women.
ranks eighth among EU countries regarding the integration of digital technology
in businesses. In digital public services, the country is successful in the
open data indicator, advancing to the tenth position in the EU. Slovenian
internet users actively engage with e-government services (77%) compared to the
EU average of 64%.
DESI, what is the current situation in the individual EU Member States?
Digital Economy and Society Index has shown that the transition to digital technology
has generally progressed. Still, new efforts are needed at the EU level.
Although all EU Member States have made progress with digitisation, the overall
picture is quite diverse within the various Member States. The gap between the
leading EU countries and those with the lowest results in the DESI index is
As far as
digital skills are concerned, 56% of individuals across the European Union have
at least basic digital skills. The data also shows a slight increase in the
number of ICT specialists employed: in 2020, there were 8.4 million ICT
specialists in the EU, compared with 7.8 million the year before, with only 19%
of ICT specialists being women.
55% of companies reported having difficulties recruiting ICT specialists.
However, the shortage of adequately educated and skilled labour also affects
businesses’ digital technology integration, making the task take longer.
59% of EU households had access to Very High-Capacity Network (VHCN). 5G
networks have become commercially available in 13 Member States, mainly in
the digitalisation of public services, several Member States set up or
strengthened digital platforms to provide more services online in the first
year of the pandemic.
ranked first among the EU Member States according to the DESI index. Denmark
leads in Connectivity (94% of households are connected to very-high-capacity
networks (VHCNs) and 70.1% to fibre, 5G mobile-broadband covers 80% of
populated areas). It ranks 2nd in the Integration of digital
technology in businesses. It also ranks second in terms of Digital public
services (92% of Internet users use e-government services).
Danes have strong digital skills compared to other Europeans (they rank 4th),
30% of adults and 25% of the labour force still lack basic digital skills. The
share of information and communications technology (ICT) specialists in the
workforce and the share of ICT graduates are higher than the EU average. However,
companies still report a shortage of available experts in this field.
to the DESI index, Romania landed last among the EU Member States. Broadband is
available to 52% of households. Romania is also stuck at this share due to
regulatory barriers from their permit-granting procedure. Digitisation of
public services is also at the lowest level in the EU.
there was a slight increase in the percentage of ICT specialists in Romania,
they still represent a much lower proportion of the workforce than in the EU as
a whole (2.4% against an EU average of 4.3%). In addition, only 31% of the
population have at least basic digital skills (the EU average is 56%).
What are the EU level goals
put down by the Digital Compass: The European Way for the Digital Decade?
compass for the EU’s digital decade is based on four cardinal directions, with
each direction setting the goals that the European Union wants to achieve by
The first cardinal
direction, skills, is to achieve 20 million ICT specialists and have at
least 80% of the population acquire basic digital skills.
The second direction
covers secure and sustainable digital infrastructures – this includes
sufficient data transmission for everyone (Gigabit networks), 5G for everyone,
cutting edge semiconductors with the EU aiming to at least double its share of
global production to reduce dependence (especially on China), using Edge and Cloud
computing to make data accessible from anywhere, and creating the first
computer with quantum acceleration.
The third direction
is the digital transformation of businesses, which involves the new uptake
of technology (75% of EU companies using the cloud, artificial intelligence,
and big data) and having more than 90% of SMEs reach at least a basic level of
point of the compass covers the digitisation of public services, namely
that vital public services should be 100% accessible online, that all citizens
should have access to health records through e-Health systems, and that 80% of
citizens should use a digital identity card.
The issue of
access for the elderly is not sufficiently addressed
compare the set goals with the achievements of the lowest and highest ranked EU
Member States according to the DESI index, we can see that there is still a
long way to go. Nor can we ignore that neither connectivity nor the
digitisation of public services will help people who do not even have basic
Nor can we
ignore that only people up to and including 74 years of age are taken into
account when calculating the human resources index. Given that only 33% of
people aged 55-74 and only 28% of retirees and inactive people have basic
digital skills at the EU level, we cannot help but wonder: what about those over
74 years of age? And the question that follows is: is this truly digitalisation?
Is this the EU that leaves no one behind?
European Union of Seniors (ESU) also noted that “The principle of ‘everyone’
needing access to digital technology is recognised in recent EU Council
conclusions, but often concrete actions for older persons and vulnerable groups
are lacking”. In the resolution, Towards an active and competent
participation of all in resilient digital societies, they also warned that
if older persons are not provided with technology access and the necessary
training, they will be shut off from society, worsening an already worrying
trend of isolation and loneliness among many older citizens.
Aware of this issue, and with deep respect for the work the ESU does, we
will address this issue in more detail in future articles.
Keywords: digitisation, DESI, elderly, Digital Compass,
article is part of joint project of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European
Studies and the Anton Korošec Institute (INAK) Following the path of
digitalization in Slovenia and Europe. This project receives funding from the
information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do
not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union
institutions/Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies/ Anton Korošec
Institute. Organizations mentioned above assume no responsibility for facts or
opinions expressed in this article or any subsequent use of the information