Today at the well-attended #Digital4EU stakeholder forum in Brussels, the European Commission has announced a new Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). The index aims to highlight how digital Europe’s 28 member states really are, and to demonstrate that borders – and I quote – “remain an obstacle to a fully-fledged Digital Single Market – one of the top priorities of the Juncker Commission”.

The new tool, presented today at the event, provides per-country snapshots of connectivity (how widespread, fast and affordable broadband is), Internet skills, the use of online activities from news to shopping, and how key digital technologies (e-invoices, cloud services, e-commerce, etc) and digital public services such as e-government and e-health are developed across Europe.

The data is mostly from 2013 and 2014 and essentially aims to provide an overview of how digital Europe is. You can argue that the best you can do for this is glorified guesswork, but FYI the DESI combines more than 30 indicators and uses a weighting system to rank each country based on its digital performance.

To calculate a member state’s overall score, each set and subset of indicators were given a specific weighting by European Commission experts. Connectivity and digital skills each contribute 25% to the total score. Integration of digital technology accounts for 20%, while online activities (‘use of Internet’) and digital public services each contribute 15%.
Digital Economy and society index

As you can see above, right at the top is Denmark, with a 0.68 digital performance score out of 1, but really Nordic countries are – perhaps unsurprisingly – scoring well across the board; Sweden and Finland are also in the top 5 alongside Belgium and The Netherlands.

Not so high on the European ‘digital performance’ leaderboard are countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia and Italy.

Some other findings from the Index, which overall combines more than 30 indicators:

– A majority of Europeans use the Internet on a regular basis: 75% in 2014 (compared to 72% in 2013), ranging from 93% in Luxembourg to a meager 48% in Romania

– Europeans are apparently very eager to access audiovisual content online: 49% of Europeans who go online have played or downloaded games, images, films or music. 39% of households that have a TV watch video on demand

– Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) face barriers with e-commerce: only 15% of SMEs sell online – and of that 15%, fewer than half do so across borders

– Digital public services are an everyday reality in some countries but almost non-existent in others: 33% of European Internet users have used online forms to send information to public authorities, ranging from 69% in Denmark to only 6% in Romania

– 26% of general practitioners in Europe use e-prescriptions to transfer prescriptions to pharmacists over the Internet, but this varies from 100% in Estonia to 0% in Malta

The European Commission is currently preparing its Digital Single Market strategy, which will be presented in May. (By the way, to make sure startups’ voices are heard as the plans take shape, check out this survey we’ve put together in collaboration with Nesta and the European Digital Forum).

If you’re interested in digging in: the DESI dataset is available here.

(Featured image credit: buffaloboy2513 / Shutterstock)