Digital economy and digital society statistics at regional level
- Data extracted in January 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: September 2018.
This article forms part of Eurostat’s annual flagship publication, the Eurostat regional yearbook. It emphasises the geographic aspects of the digital divide by presenting statistical data for a range of issues linked to the use of the internet across the regions of the European Union (EU).
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
- The proportion of the population regularly using the internet increased in 2016 by 3 percentage points compared with 2015. Nearly four in five (79 %) people aged 16 to 74 used the internet at least once a week. British, Dutch and Danish regions, as well as Luxembourg had the highest shares of regular internet use in 2016.
- Nearly three in five (59 %) people aged 16 to 74 in the EU-28 used mobile devices to connect to the internet when away from home or work in 2016. Compared with regular internet use, the use of mobile devices in this way was relatively low in many Italian and Polish regions. People in cities were generally the most likely to use mobile devices to access the internet when away from home or work, while people in rural areas were the least likely.
- Just over half (52 %) of individuals aged 16 to 74 in the EU-28 used the internet for social networking in 2016, with particularly high shares in capital city regions and more generally in regions across Nordic and western EU Member States; France was an exception with many regions reporting relatively low shares participating in social networking.
- Just under half (48 %) of individuals aged 16 to 74 in the EU-28 used the internet for e-government purposes in the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey. Such activities were particularly common for people living across the regions of the Netherlands and the Nordic Member States, while interaction with e-government services was least common across the regions of Bulgaria, Italy and Romania.
- In 2016, 55 % of individuals in the EU-28 aged 16 to 74 reported that they had made online purchases of goods or services. The use of e-commerce was quite closely related to regular use of the internet and was therefore relatively high in regions of northern and western EU Member States and lower in regions of southern and eastern Member States.
In the early years of global use of the internet, access was mainly available to people who worked with or owned a desktop computer. Thereafter, a number of technological (and commercial) developments occurred, such that a wider range of alternative devices can now be used to go online, particularly when people are on the move. Possibly, the introduction of smartphones and tablet computers has helped bridge some of the digital divide, providing internet access to a variety of groups who previously had difficulties in accessing the internet, for example, those with low educational attainment or those with low incomes.
Almost one in seven people in the EU-28 has never used the internet
An internet user, in this context, is defined as a person making use of the internet in whatever way: whether at home, at work, or anywhere else; whether for private or professional purposes; regardless of the device (desktop computer, laptop, netbook or tablet, smart phone, games console or e-book reader) or type of connection being used. Regular internet users are those who used the internet, on average, at least once a week within the three months prior to the survey.
In 2016, the share of the population (aged 16 to 74) who had never used the internet dropped to just under one person in seven in the EU-28, which was around 14 % as shown in the left half of Figure 1, while approximately 2 % of the population had used the internet more than a year before the 2016 survey. Some 71 % of the population used the internet on a daily basis during the three months prior to the 2016 survey, while a further 8 % used it at least once a week and 3 % used less than once a week (but within the previous three months). Summing the shares for these three groups of internet users provides confirmation that more than four fifths (82 %) of the EU-28 population used the internet in the three months prior to the 2016 survey. Comparing the frequency of usage in 2016 with that in 2007 (beginning of the time series for EU-28), daily usage increased greatly, while the share of all other frequencies fell, most notably for the category of people never having used the internet.
The bottom third of Figure 1 presents an overview of some common uses of the internet. Exchanging e-mails was done by 71 % of individuals during the three months prior to the 2016 survey, in other words, a very large proportion of the 82 % of the population (aged 16 to 74) who had used the internet at all during this period. The proportion who had used the internet to find information about goods and services was also relatively high, nearly two thirds (66 %) of the population, while internet banking and looking for health information were used by nearly half of the population. The share of the population undertaking such internet activities increased between 2007 and 2016 by 20–24 percentage points for each of the four uses. The increase in the share of individuals using the internet for these activities rose at a rapid pace most notably among those looking for health information (for which the share doubled) and those using internet banking (for which the share nearly doubled).
Regular use of the internet
The proportion of individuals (aged 16 to 74) in the EU-28 making regular use of the internet (daily or weekly) continued to rise in recent years. The magnitude of increases slowed from 4–5 percentage points per year between 2008 and 2010, to 2–3 percentage points between 2010 and 2014, and stood at just 1 percentage point in 2015; however, the increase in 2016 was 3 percentage points indicating a new stimulus. The share of regular internet users in the EU-28 increased overall by 28 percentage points from 51 % in 2007 to 79 % in 2016.
Looking in more detail at the regional results (generally for NUTS level 2 regions, although data for Germany, Greece, Poland and the United Kingdom are only available at NUTS level 1), there were 135 regions out of the 205 in the EU-28 for which data are available, where at least 75 % of the population (aged 16 to 74) made regular use of the internet in 2016 (as shown by the darkest three shades of orange in Map 1). There was almost an even split between the number of regions (99 regions) with a value above the EU-28 average and the number with a value below (101 regions), with five regions reporting the same share as the EU-28.
Particularly high proportions of regular internet use in British, Dutch and Danish regions, as well as in Luxembourg
The share of the population (aged 16 to 74) making regular use of the internet reached 97 % in Luxembourg (one region at this level of detail) and in South East England in the United Kingdom, and was just below this level in the Danish capital city region, two Dutch regions (Utrecht and Flevoland) and two more British regions (South West England and London). These seven regions where regular internet use was 95 % or more were joined by a further 62 EU regions where the share reached or surpassed 85 %; these were concentrated in western (mainly German, Dutch, British and Belgian regions, but also French, Austrian and Irish) and northern (Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Estonian) regions, with the Czech and Hungarian capital city regions the only exceptions.
Less than half of the population used the internet on a regular basis in Sud - Muntenia in Romania
By contrast, there was one region in the EU-28 where less than half of the population (aged 16 to 74) made regular use of the internet in 2016, namely Sud - Muntenia (Romania), where the share was 48 %. Looking more broadly, the 28 regions where regular internet use was below 65 % (those depicted with the lightest shade of orange in Map 1), were mainly in southern and eastern parts of the EU, with three French regions (Corse, Guyane and Martinique) the only exceptions.
In a majority of EU Member States, the capital city region recorded the highest regional share of regular internet users, although among the multi-regional Member States this was not the case in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia or the United Kingdom.
Mobile internet use
Having established that regular use of the internet was relatively high in most EU regions, the remainder of this article focuses not so much on the question of whether or not people use the internet, but rather how they use it. The use of mobile devices (such as smart phones) to access the internet away from home or work has increased greatly within the EU-28, complementing or supplementing more traditional fixed connections (usually at home, work or in a place of study). In 2012 (beginning of the time series), just over one third (36 %) of individuals aged 16 to 74 in the EU-28 had used a mobile device to access the internet within the three months prior to the survey, with this share increasing 23 percentage points to reach 59 % by 2016.
Between 2012 and 2016, the proportion of the population (aged 16 to 74) that had used the internet at all in the three months prior to the survey increased just nine percentage points, from 73 % to 82 %. As such, in 2012 around half of all internet users used a mobile device (with or without also using more traditional devices), with this proportion increasing to more than 7 out of 10 internet users by 2016, underlining that mobile devices have become increasingly common in recent years.
A regional analysis of the use of mobile devices to access the internet shows a broadly similar pattern to that observed for regular internet access in general, namely relatively high usage in northern and western EU Member States and lower usage in southern and eastern Member States, with usage generally higher in capital city regions. The highest usage of mobile devices for internet access (85 % or over) was reported in two Dutch (Flevoland and Utrecht) and two British (London and South East England) regions, as well as in the Danish and Swedish capital city regions. Looking more broadly at all regions where this share was 75 % or higher (the darkest shade of orange in Map 2) the only regions that were not in northern or western Member States were located in Spain, the rest being in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Benelux Member States or the Nordic Member States. The regions reporting relatively low shares of the population accessing the internet away from home or work using mobile devices were exclusively in southern (Italy and Greece) and eastern (Poland, Bulgaria and Romania) Member States.
Compared with regular internet access, mobile internet use was particularly low in many Italian and Polish regions and high in Spanish regions
Although the broad patterns observed in Maps 1 and 2 were quite similar, there were several notable differences. For example, in Lombardia (Italy) three quarters (75 %) of the population (aged 16 to 74) were regular internet users in 2016, just 4 percentage points below the EU-28 average, while only 29 % of these individuals used mobile devices for this purpose, 30 percentage points below the EU-28 average. Large differences between the incidence of regular internet access and the incidence of internet access away from home or work through mobile devices were observed in many Italian regions, particularly those in northern Italy. Other regions with a similar situation included all of the Polish regions, several Czech regions and Auvergne in France. By contrast, a particularly high incidence of the use of mobile devices to access the internet away from home or work (compared with the overall incidence for the regular use of the internet) was reported for many Spanish regions, for example the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, Extremadura, Cataluña and Principado de Asturias.
An analysis by degree of urbanisation shows that the use of mobile phones (or smart phones) to access the internet when away from home or work was greater among people in cities (61 %) in the EU-28 in 2016, than it was among people living in towns and suburbs (55 %) or those living in rural areas (47 %). This pattern was observed in almost every EU Member State, the exceptions being: Luxembourg, where the pattern was reversed; Belgium and Cyprus (and to a lesser extent France and the United Kingdom), where the incidence was slightly higher in towns and suburbs than in cities; and Ireland (and to a lesser extent Estonia), where the incidence was lower in towns and suburbs than in rural areas.
One of the most common online activities is participation in social networking. More than half (52 %) of individuals (aged 16 to 74) in the EU-28 used the internet for social networking in 2016, for example using sites such as Facebook or Twitter. This share was 14 percentage points higher than it had been in 2011 (start of the time series). The incidence of this activity has a clear age profile, with 85 % of people aged 16–24 in the EU-28 using social networks in 2016, compared with 16 % of the population aged 65–74.
A regional ranking of the incidence of social network participation shows that the most popular places were often capital city regions: 78 % of the population (aged 16 to 74) used social networks in the Danish capital city region, 77 % in the Swedish capital city region and 76 % in the Belgian capital city region, the latter sharing third place with the Danish region of Midtjylland and the British region of Scotland (NUTS level 1). Four of the five Danish regions reported shares of 70 % or higher (shown as the darkest shade of orange in Map 3), with the fifth Danish region just below this level. Other EU Member States where several regions had a 70 % or higher incidence of social networking included Belgium, Sweden and the United Kingdom, with the Finnish and Hungarian capital city regions also reaching this level.
The distribution of regions was slightly skewed, with 94 regions above and 108 regions below the EU-28 average of 52 %, with three regions recording the same share as the EU-28 average.
In seven French regions less than 35 % of the population (aged 16 to 74) participated in social networking, with Limousin (28 %), Guyane (27 %) and Corse (13 %) recording the lowest shares. Looking at all 29 regions where the share was below 40% (shown in Map 3 with the lightest shade of orange), 17 were French and seven were Italian; the remaining five were in five different EU Member States.
Compared with regular internet access, participation in social networks was particularly low in many French and German regions and high in Belgian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Portuguese and Romanian regions, as well as in Cyprus and Malta
There are many regions where there are sizable differences between the incidence of regular internet use (as shown in Map 1) and participation in social networking (as depicted in Map 3). For example, in Bourgogne (France) more than four fifths (83 %) of the survey population were regular internet users in 2016, 4 percentage points above the EU-28 average, while only 33 % used social networks, 19 percentage points below the EU-28 average. In fact, large differences between the incidence of regular internet access and the incidence of social networking were observed in many French and German regions as well as in Burgenland (Austria). By contrast, a particularly high incidence of the use of social networking (compared with the overall incidence for the regular use of the internet) was reported for several Belgian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Portuguese and Romanian regions, as well as Cyprus and Malta (each one region at this level of detail). For example, in the Belgian Prov. Namur, 79 % of the survey population were regular internet users, in line with the EU-28 average, whereas 71 % used social networks, 19 percentage points above the EU-28 average.
For the purpose of official EU statistics, e-government concerns electronic contacts via the internet with public authorities and some public services; contacts through manually typed e-mails should be excluded. Contacts with public authorities via the internet may concern obligations (such as tax returns), rights (such as social benefits), documentation (such as birth certificates), or services (such as public education or health). The contact may take the form of searching for information online, downloading or uploading forms.
Just under half (48 %) of individuals (aged 16 to 74) in the EU-28 used the internet for e-government purposes in the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey: 29 % used the internet for downloading forms, 28 % for submitting completed forms, and more than two fifths (42%) for obtaining information. The overall use of e-government increased 13 percentage points from 35 % in 2008. The use of e-government was most common in the age group 25–34 and 35–44 where it was used by about three fifths of people, with the use of e-government somewhat lower for younger users (45 % for persons aged 16–24), perhaps reflecting less need for such services. Use of e-government was less common among older age groups, declining to 41 % among persons aged 55–64 and 27 % among persons aged 65–74. These declines mainly reflect lower levels of internet use among the older generations: when analysed as a share of individuals using the internet (rather than of all individuals) the incidence of e-government was between 53 % and 62 % for all 10-year age groups between the ages of 25 and 74.
Use of e-government most common in Dutch and Nordic regions and least common in Bulgarian, Italian and Romanian regions
A regional ranking of the incidence of e-government use shows five of the top seven places taken by Danish regions, accompanied by the Finnish and Swedish capital city regions, all with at least 86 % of individuals (aged 16 to 74) having used e-government during the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey. A total of 32 regions reported shares of 70 % or higher (shown with the darkest shade of orange in Map 4), including not only all Danish regions but also all Dutch regions, four of the five Finnish regions (data are not available for the fifth region), six of the eight Swedish regions, and one region each from five other EU Member States, namely, Border, Midland and Western (Ireland), Île de France (France), Estonia and Luxembourg (both single regions at this level of detail) and South West (the United Kingdom, a NUTS level 1 region).
The distribution of regions was quite strongly skewed, with more regions recording values above the EU-28 average of 48 % than the number recording values below it. In part this reflected some very low shares of e-government use in specific regions: five Romanian regions reported that less than 10 % of individuals (aged 16 to 74) used e-government and a further 20 regions — all from Bulgaria, Italy or Romania — also reported shares below 25 % (shown with the lightest shade of orange in Map 4). These low shares may be linked, at least in part, to a lack of widespread e-government service provision.
The use of e-government services was particularly high — compared with regular internet access — in some French overseas regions and Corse, while it was low in Scotland, North East England, Bucuresti - Ilfov and Praha
There are only a few regions where the pattern of regular internet use (as shown in Map 1) is particularly different from that for the use of e-government services (as depicted in Map 4). Most notably, in the French overseas regions of Guyane and Martinique and the French island region of Corse the incidence of regular internet users was at least 15 percentage points below the EU-28 average (79 %), whereas the share of the population (aged 16 to 74) using e-government services was close to the EU-28 average (48 %) in Guyane (46 %) and above it in Corse (51 %) and Martinique (52 %); to a lesser extent a similar situation was observed in Alentejo and Centro (both Portugal) and in the Greek region of Voreia Ellada.
In Scotland and the North East of England (the United Kingdom) as well as Praha (the capital city region of the Czech Republic), regular internet use was at least 7 percentage points more common than in the EU-28 as a whole, whereas the use of e-government services was at least 9 percentage points less common. In Bucuresti - Ilfov (the capital city region of Romania) regular internet use was, at 75 %, just 4 percentage points below the EU-28 average, whereas the incidence of the use of e-government services was 19 %, which was 29 percentage points below — or less than half — the EU-28 average of 48 %.
E-commerce may be defined generally as the sale or purchase of goods or services through electronic transactions conducted via the internet or other computer-mediated (online communication) networks. For the survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals it is defined more specifically as the placing of orders for goods or services via the internet (payment and the ultimate delivery of the goods or service may be conducted either online or offline). As well as buying goods such as books, groceries, clothes and electrical/electronic goods, it also includes buying, among others: telecommunication services; films and music; software; reservations for accommodation and travel; lottery tickets; information services subscriptions; via online auctions. Note that orders via manually typed e-mails are excluded from the statistics presented.
In 2016, 55 % of individuals (aged 16 to 74) in the EU-28 reported that they had made online purchases of goods or services (at least once within the 12 months prior to the survey date); this figure has grown from 30 % in 2007, through 40 % in 2010 and 50 % in 2014. The share of the population using e-commerce was relatively high among the youngest age group (67 % for persons aged 16 to 24) and peaked among the group covering those aged 25 to 34 (72 %). Thereafter the use of e-commerce declined as a function of age, with the lowest share (27 %) recorded among those aged 65 to 74. This age profile is in large part, but not completely, explained by the lower overall proportion of older persons using the internet: e-commerce had been used during the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey by 75 % of individuals aged 25 to 34 who had made use of the internet, whereas the corresponding share among those aged 65 to 74 was just over half (53 % of internet users within this age group).
More than three quarters of the population made online purchases of goods and services in many western and Nordic regions
In 2016, the proportion of individuals (aged 16 to 74) making online purchases ranged from a high of 90 % in South East England (the United Kingdom) down to a low of 8 % in the Vest region of Romania (see Map 5). The difference between these two regions with the highest and lowest propensity to make online purchases was comparable with the gap recorded between the highest and lowest propensities to make use of e-government (as presented in Map 4) and far greater than that for the other ICT indicators (as presented in Maps 1 to 3).
All of the regions for which data are available for the proportion of individuals making online purchases in Denmark, Germany (NUTS level 1), Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom (NUTS level 1), as well as Estonia and Luxembourg (both of which are just one region at this level of detail), reported a majority of their populations making online purchases in the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey. Focusing on the regions with the highest shares (those in the darkest shade of orange in Map 5), 75 % or more of the population (aged 16 to 74) made e-commerce purchases in a wide range of regions spread across western or Nordic Member States: the United Kingdom (12 NUTS level 1 regions), Germany (seven NUTS level 1 regions), Denmark (all five regions), the Netherlands (four regions), Sweden (three regions), as well as in the capital city region of Finland and Luxembourg (one region at this level of detail).
By contrast, all of the regions in Greece (NUTS level 1), Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Poland (NUTS level 1), Portugal, Romania and Slovenia, as well as Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta (all four of which are each one region at this level of detail), reported a minority of their populations making online purchases in the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey. The regions where less than 30 % of the population (aged 16 to 74) made online purchases of goods and services (as shown by the lightest shade of orange in Map 5) included all eight Romanian regions, all six Bulgarian regions, eight Italian regions, two regions each from Greece (NUTS level 1), France and Portugal, as well as Cyprus (one region at this level of detail).
The use of e-commerce was often quite closely related to regular internet use
There are very few regions where the pattern of regular internet use (as shown in Map 1) is particularly different from that of the use of e-commerce (as shown in Map 5). In North East (the United Kingdom, a NUTS level 1 region), the incidence of regular internet use was, at 86 % some 7 percentage points higher than the EU-28 average of 79 %), whereas e-commerce was used in the 12 months prior to the 2016 survey by 81 % of the population (aged 16 to 74) in North East, some 26 percentage points above the EU-28 average. By contrast, in a few regions, including the Hungarian and Romanian capital city regions, the use of e-commerce was relatively low, compared with the proportion of individuals making regular use of the internet: in Közép-Magyarország, regular internet use was 8 percentage points higher than the EU-28 average, whereas the use of e-commerce was 13 percentage points below; in Bucuresti - Ilfov, regular internet use was just 4 percentage points less common than in the EU-28 as a whole, whereas the incidence of the use of e-commerce was only 19 %, some 36 percentage points below the EU-28 average.
Figure 3 looks in more detail at online purchases of three categories of goods and services with the analysis based on the degree of urbanisation. Differences in the online purchase of goods and services by degree of urbanisation may reflect not only fluctuations in the use of the internet overall or a willingness to use the internet for purchases, but also underlying differences in the need or wish for particular types of goods and services.
Among the three types of goods and services shown in Figure 3, the one for which the EU-28 as a whole had the greatest variation by degree of urbanisation was travel and holiday accommodation: 21 % of people living in rural areas purchased such services online in 2016, compared with 33 % in cities, a range of 12 percentage points. For films/music and/or books/magazines/e-learning material and/or computer software (hereafter referred to as audio-visual products), the range was slightly narrower at 10 percentage points, while for clothes and sports goods the range was 7 percentage points. For all three product groups, people living in rural areas recorded the lowest propensity to purchase online, while the highest shares were recorded among those living in cities, closely followed by people living in towns and suburbs.
A closer analysis for online purchases of clothes and sports goods reveals that 16 of the 28 EU Member States reported a similar pattern to that observed for the EU-28 as a whole, namely the highest shares of individuals making purchases of these goods over the internet in 2016 were recorded for those people living in cities and the lowest shares for people living in rural areas. Three of the exceptions were Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and Italy where the pattern was reversed. In the other exceptions, towns and suburbs in Belgium, Estonia, France, Hungary, Austria and Sweden reported the highest share of individuals making use of e-commerce to purchase clothes and sports goods, whereas in the Czech Republic, Ireland and Latvia the opposite was true, as towns and suburbs recorded the lowest share of individuals. In Ireland, the range in values between the different degrees of urbanisation was particularly large, with the propensity of people living in cities to make purchases of clothes and sports goods over the internet nearly three and a half times that recorded for people living in towns and suburbs; in fact Ireland reported a large range for all three product groups presented in Figure 3.
Concerning audio-visual products an even larger number of EU Member States displayed the same pattern as the EU-28: in 23 EU Member States the highest share of people purchasing such products online was in cities and the lowest in rural areas. Ireland again was an exception as the share of people making such purchases in towns and suburbs was particularly low, while in contrast the share was highest in towns and suburbs in Belgium, Malta and the United Kingdom. As for clothes and sports goods, the highest share of people purchasing audio-visual products online in Luxembourg was in rural areas.
In a similar manner, those individuals living in cities had the highest propensity to make purchases of travel or holiday accommodation online; this pattern was generally observed (24 of the EU Member States), as Belgium and Malta (cities and towns and suburbs had the same propensity) and the United Kingdom (where rural areas had the highest propensity) were once again exceptions, along with France (towns and suburbs recorded the highest propensity).
Data sources and availability
European ICT surveys aim to provide timely statistics on individuals and households relating to their use of ICTs. Many of these statistics are used in the benchmarking framework associated with the EU’s digital scoreboard. EU statistics on the use of ICT are based on Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society. The regulation concerns statistics on the use of ICT in enterprises and statistics on ICT use in households and by individuals — only the latter are presented in this article. Since 2005, European Commission implementing regulations have been passed annually, specifying particular areas of interest for data collection, thereby allowing policymakers to compile data that aim to measure the impact of new technologies and services in this rapidly changing domain.
The statistical unit for regional data on ICTs is either the household or the individual. The population of households consists of all households having at least one member in the age group 16–74 years. The population of individuals consists of all individuals aged 16–74. Questions on access to ICTs are addressed to households, while questions on the use of ICTs are answered by individuals within the household.
In general, the data presented were collected in the second quarter of the survey year (2016). EU-28 aggregates are compiled when the information available for EU Member States represents at least 60 % of the EU’s population and at least 55 % of the 28 Member States that make-up the EU aggregate. If additional national data become available, these are included in revised aggregates; as such, these statistics may be revised to reflect the supply of additional information.
Regional statistics on ICT for the EU Member States are generally available for NUTS level 2 regions. However, the latest data for Germany, Greece, Poland and the United Kingdom are only provided for NUTS level 1 regions. Recent ICT statistics are also presented for Iceland (2014), Norway, Switzerland (2014), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia (2015) and Turkey; of these, only Norway, Switzerland and Turkey are multi-regional and provide a regional breakdown (the latter only for NUTS level 1 regions).
The data presented in this article are based exclusively on the 2013 version of NUTS. Data are not available for the French region of Mayotte and the Finnish region of Åland.
Glossary entries on Statistics Explained are available for a wide range of concepts/indicators covering the digital economy and society, including: broadband, digital divide, information and communication technology (ICT), internet use, internet user, e-commerce, e-government and mobile internet use.
Information and communication technology (ICTs) affect people’s everyday lives in many ways, both at work and in the home, for example, when communicating or buying goods or services online.
A fast connection to the internet (coupled with knowledge and relevant skills) makes it easy to carry out a wide range of activities online: for example, obtaining information about almost any topic; communicating via e-mail, message or video services; accessing files; using audio-visual services; buying or selling goods and services. Indeed, access to ICTs is considered, by many, as fundamental for improving both productivity levels and the competitiveness of regions. ICTs are credited with delivering greater flexibility in the working environment (for example, working from home or other remote locations) and offering a wider range of leisure activities. These developments have created new dimensions of not only economic, but also social and political participation for individuals and groups. The presence and reach of ICTs has also had a profound effect on transforming society, allowing completely new ways of working, socialising and sharing information, irrespective of geographical location.
Although the internet is an almost constant part of the daily lives of many Europeans, some parts of the population continue to be excluded from the digital world. As an increasing share of tasks are carried out online, digital skills and access to technology become increasingly important as a means of allowing everyone to participate in this part of society. On 10 June 2016, the European Commission adopted a new Skills Agenda for Europe which seeks to promote a number of actions to ensure that the right training, skills and support are available to people in the EU so that they are equipped with the skills that are needed in a modern working environment.
EU policies in this area cover a range of issues: from regulating entire areas such as e-commerce, to devising methods that help protect an individual’s privacy.
In May 2015, the European Commission adopted a digital single market strategy (COM(2015) 192 final) as one of its top 10 political priorities. The strategy had 16 initiatives that covered three broad pillars: promoting better online access to goods and services across Europe; designing an optimal environment for digital networks and services to develop; ensuring that the European economy and industry takes full advantage of the digital economy as a potential driver for growth. In the European Commission’s work programme for 2017 ‘Delivering a Europe that protects, empowers and defends’ (COM(2016) 710), the European Commission proposed to advance swiftly on proposals that had already been put forward and to undertake a review of the progress made towards completing the digital single market.
At the end of 2015, the European Commission published a framework called monitoring the digital economy and society 2016–2021; it describes main policy developments and outlines data requirements for these, with a digital scoreboard introduced to measure progress in the European digital economy. Furthermore, the European Commission adopted a review of the digital single market; two years on during 2016.
For more information:
- E-commerce statistics for individuals
- Digital economy and society statistics - households and individuals
Further Eurostat information
- Eurostat regional yearbook
- Half of Europeans used the internet on the go and a fifth saved files on internet storage space in 2014 — Statistics in focus 16/2014
- ICT usage in households and by individuals (t_isoc_i)
- Regional information society statistics (t_isoc_reg)
- Regional digital economy and society (t_reg_isoc)
- ICT usage in households and by individuals (isoc_i)
- Regional information society statistics (isoc_reg)
- Regional information society statistics (reg_isoc)
Methodology / Metadata
- ICT usage in households and by individuals (ESMS metadata file — isoc_i_esms)
- Methodological manual for statistics on the information society
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- Digital Agenda for Europe
- Europe 2020 strategy
- Framework for Benchmarking Digital Europe 2011–2015
- i2010 A European information society for growth and employment
- Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 of 21 April 2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
- Riga ministerial declaration on e-inclusion of November 2006