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The EU Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2018

Results of DESI 2018
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. It measures the progress of EU countries towards a digital economy and society. It compiles a set of relevant indicators on Europe's current digital policy mix.

The DESI is made up of five principal policy areas which regroup overall 34 indicators:

1. Connectivity - Fixed broadband, mobile broadband, fast and ultrafast broadband and broadband prices

2. Human capital - Basic skills and internet use, advanced skills and development

3. Use of internet service - Citizens' use of content, communication and online transactions

4. Integration of digital technology - Business digitisation and e-commerce

5. Digital public services - eGovernment and eHealth

Here the results for 2018 DESI:

In 2017, all EU Member States improved in the DESI results. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands have the most advanced digital economies, followed by Luxembourg, Ireland, the UK, Belgium and Estonia. Ireland, Cyprus and Spain progressed the most (by more than 15 points) over the last four years. The lowest increase in digital performance was recorded in Greece (below 10 points).

Here is the revised ranking for DESI 2017:

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


The countries with the highest overall connectivity levels are Netherlands, Luxembourg and Denmark.

Fixed broadband is available to 97% of Europeans, and 80% 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 58% of Europeans.

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, with one-third of all homes having at least 30 Mbps. The results also show that 15% of homes subscribe to ultrafast broadband, twice as much as two years previously.

Human Capital dimension

81% of Europeans go online regularly/at least once a week. This is 2 percent points increase than in the previous year. Having said that, 43% of Europeans still do not have basic digital skills. The countries with the highest score in this area are Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The results show that the EU improved in the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates. While only 18.4 out of 1000 people between 20 and 29 years old graduated in STEM in 2013, this increased to 19.1 in 2015. Moreover, there were 8.2 million ICT specialists in the EU in 2016, growing from 7.3 million 3 years earlier.

Use of Internet Services

The Use of Internet Services accounts for a variety of online activities, such as the consumption of online content, including videos, music, games, video calls, online shopping and banking. 

The countries where Internet users are the most active include Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. Romania, Italy and Bulgaria are at the bottom of the list.

There has been an increase in 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%).

Integration of technology

European businesses are increasingly engaging with more digital technologies. This includes the use of a variety of different software:

  • Sharing electronic information increased from 26% in 2013 to 34% of enterprises in 2017
  • The issuing of electronic invoices/payroll software increased from 10% in 2013 to 18% of enterprises in 2016
  • The use of social media to engage with customers and partners increased from 15% in 2013 to 21% of enterprises in 2017
  • The Integration of technology is most advanced in Denmark, Finland and Ireland.
  • eCommerce by SMEs also grew slightly from 14% in 2013 to 17% of SMEs in 2017. 

Digital Public Services

The Digital Public Services dimension measures the digitisation of public services, focusing on eGovernment and eHealth. Modernisation and digitisation of public services can lead to efficiency gains for the public administration, citizens and businesses. The European champions in Digital Public Services are Finland, Estonia and Denmark.

The EU ICT (Information and Communications Technology) sector and R&D performance

The Research and Development ICT presents analysis on the trends of ICT Sector and R&D provided by the European Commission as well as external studies conducted at the request of the European Commission. 

Horizon 2020 (H2020) has allocated EUR 5.7 billion of EU funding to 1,969 projects in the field of ICT, attracting 6,250 organisations in its first four years. SMEs make up more than 25 percent of the participating organisations. 95 percent of EU funding in H2020 is allocated to EU Member States. Third countries also take part in H2020, but with little EU funding (1 percent).

The ICT sector value added amounted to EUR 632 billion in 2015. ICT services represented 92 percent 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. 

The EU's five largest economies; Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain, were the five biggest contributors to ICT sector value added in 2015. However, Ireland, a medium-sized country, has by far the highest ICT sector share of GDP.

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