Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Belgium

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Spider chart of Begium's performance in th DESI index in comparison to the EU Average
Find here the most recent analysis and data by country. A selection of key documents and graphs are shown about topics such as broadband, internet activity and skills, egovernment, ICT in schools, research and innovation, as well as other main indicators.
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/digital-agenda/en/file/desi-2015-radial-bepng-2desi-2015-radial-be.png

 

In DESI 2015, Belgium has an overall score[1] of 0.59 and ranks 5th out of the 28 EU Member States. Relative to last year, Belgium has improved or maintained its good scores in most of the dimensions. 74% of broadband subscriptions are at 30 Mbps or above. 65% of Internet users play films, games and videos online (3rd in the EU) and Belgian businesses lead Europe (47%) when it comes to electronic information sharing through business management software. Compared to 2014, Belgium dropped by 4 positions in terms of Digital Public Services, mostly due to rapid progress in other EU countries. 42% of Belgian Internet users actively used eGovernment services and four fifths of the administrative steps in a major life event can be completed online.

 

Belgium ranks on the top of the cluster of medium‑performance[2] countries.

 

DESIBelgiumClusterEU
rankscorescorescore
DESI 201550.590.520.48
DESI 201450.560.460.45

1. Connectivity

1 ConnectivityBelgiumClusterEU
rankscorescorescore
DESI 201510.780.630.56
DESI 201410.720.540.51

 

Connectivity is the DESI 2015 dimension where Belgium is the top performer in the EU. It maintained its first position with an overall Connectivity score of 0.78.

 

 BelgiumEU
DESI 2015DESI 2014DESI 2015
valuerankvaluerankvalue
1a1 Fixed BB Coverage
% households
100%
(2014)
 6100%
(2013)
697%
(2014)
1a2 Fixed BB Take-up
% households
81%
(2014)
 578%
(2013)
670%
(2014)
1b1 Mobile BB Take-up
Subscribers per 100 people
57
(2014)
 2151
(2013)
2072
(2014)
1b2 Spectrum
% of the target for spectrum to be harmonised at EU level
75%
(2014)
 1375%
(2013)
1370%
(2014)
1c1 NGA Coverage
% households, out of all households
99%
(2014)
 298%
(2013)
268%
(2014)
1c2 Subscriptions to Fast BB
% of subscriptions >= 30Mbps, out of fixed BB subscriptions
74%
(2014)
 173%
(2013)
126%
(2014)
1d1 Fixed BB Price
% individual gross income spent for the cheapest standalone Fixed Broadband subscription (lower values are better)
1.4%
(2014)
 161.2%
(2013)
91.4%
(2014)

 

Belgium is the leading performer in connectivity. The coverage of the country is complete, 99% is covered by fast networks (at least 30 Mbps), 81% of households subscribe to fixed broadband, and three quarters of these subscriptions are fast.  

Belgium scores well but faces two challenges for fast Internet access: First, it needs to increase the uptake of mobile broadband as mobile devices are becoming an essential gateway for consumers to communicate, work and shop in the digital economy. Secondly, in order to keep its leadership position in connectivity, Belgium needs to encourage the deployment of ultrafast broadband connections (above 100 Mbps). Whereas operators have in the past years upgraded their legacy copper and coaxial cable networks, ultrafast networks will require to install fibre connecting businesses and households directly at the premises.

In April 2015, the Belgian Federal government launched "Digital Belgium"[3], a Digital Agenda for Belgium, including plans for faster connectivity and digital skills.

 

 Download the Report on the Implementation of the Telecommunications Regulatory Package (EN)

2. Human Capital

2 Human CapitalBelgiumClusterEU
rankscorescorescore
DESI 201580.610.570.54
DESI 201480.580.530.52

 

With a Human Capital score of 0.61, Belgium ranks 8th among EU countries with a slightly better performance than in the previous year (0.58).

 

 BelgiumEU
DESI 2015DESI 2014DESI 2015
valuerankvaluerankvalue
2a1 Internet Users
% individuals (aged 16-74)
83%
(2014)
 780%
(2013)
775%
(2014)
2a2 Basic Digital Skills
% individuals (aged 16-74)
63%
(2014)
 1158%
(2012)
1259%
(2014)
2b1 ICT Specialists
% employed individuals
3.7%
(2012)
 83.7%
(2012)
82.8%
(2012)
2b2 STEM Graduates
Graduates in STEM per 1000 individuals (aged 20 to 29)
13
(2012)
 2313
(2012)
2317
(2012)

 

Belgium has an important share of regular Internet users (83%), and 63% of citizens have basic digital skills. Belgium should however pay attention to the 13% of all Belgians between 16 and 74 years who have never used the Internet.

The transmission of technology into new ideas and products also hinges on the availability of a vast pool of aptly skilled workers. While Belgium disposes of an overall qualified workforce with a high participation rate in tertiary education, Belgian has a low share of graduates in science, technology and mathematics (“STEM”). Shortages in these fields could become a major barrier to growth and innovation, with scarcities already emerging for certain functions. This is for example the case for professional digital skills. There is a shortage of qualified ICT experts such as application developers. In 2014, 37.7% of enterprises with job vacancies requiring specialized ICT skills reported problems in filling these positions. For the ICT workforce alone, the shortfall is estimated to rise from about 8,000 persons in 2012 to 30,000 in 2020[4]. Therefore, there needs to be a stronger dialogue between the educational systems and companies to match graduates and labour market needs.

3. Use of Internet

3 Use of InternetBelgiumClusterEU
rankscorescorescore
DESI 201570.530.470.43
DESI 2014110.470.430.41

 

In terms of the propensity of individuals to use Internet services, Belgium scores 0.53 (up from 0.47 last year) and ranks 7th among EU countries. The use of Internet continued to grow in all followed categories.

 

 BelgiumEU
DESI 2015DESI 2014DESI 2015
valuerankvaluerankvalue
3a1 News
% individuals who used Internet in the last 3 months (aged 16-74)
62%
(2014)
 24n.a.-67%
(2014)
3a2 Music, Videos and Games
% individuals who used Internet in the last 3 months (aged 16-74)
65%
(2014)
 363%
(2012)
249%
(2014)
3a3 Video on Demand
% households that have a TV
72%
(2014)
 369%
(2013)
441%
(2014)
3b1 Video Calls
% individuals who used Internet in the last 3 months (aged 16-74)
42%
(2014)
 1337%
(2013)
1537%
(2014)
3b2 Social Networks
% individuals who used Internet in the last 3 months (aged 16-74)
62%
(2014)
 1857%
(2013)
1958%
(2014)
3c1 Banking
% individuals who used Internet in the last 3 months (aged 16-74)
72%
(2014)
 870%
(2013)
757%
(2014)
3c2 Shopping
% individuals who used Internet in the last year (aged 16-74)
63%
(2014)
 1157%
(2013)
1163%
(2014)

 

Belgian Internet users engage in a broad range of online activities. They read news online (62%), listen to music, watch films and play games online (65%), use the Internet to communicate via video calls (42%) or through social networks (62%), and obtain video content using their broadband connections (72% of households subscribe to Video on Demand). For most of these activities, engagement among Belgians is in line with or higher than the EU average.

4. Integration of Digital Technology

4 Integration of Digital TechnologyBelgiumClusterEU
rankscorescorescore
DESI 201550.450.370.33
DESI 201450.420.330.3

 

In the Integration of Digital Technology by businesses, Belgium scores 0.45 and ranks 5th among EU countries, its second best rank among the five DESI 2015 dimensions.

 

 BelgiumEU
DESI 2015DESI 2014DESI 2015
valuerankvaluerankvalue
4a1 Electronic Information Sharing
% enterprises (no financial sector, 10+ employees)
47%
(2014)
 141%
(2013)
231%
(2014)
4a2 RFID
% enterprises (no financial sector, 10+ employees)
5.5%
(2014)
 82.9%
(2011)
63.8%
(2014)
4a3 Social Media
% enterprises (no financial sector, 10+ employees)
n.a. -17%
(2013)
914%
(2014)
4a4 eInvoices
% enterprises (no financial sector, 10+ employees)
11%
(2014)
 1212%
(2013)
1211%
(2014)
4a5 Cloud
% enterprises (no financial sector, 10+ employees)
14%
(2014)
 9n.a.-11%
(2014)
4b1 SMEs Selling Online
% SMEs (no financial sector, 10+ employees)
22%
(2014)
 620%
(2013)
715%
(2014)
4b2 eCommerce Turnover
% turnover of SMEs (no financial sector, 10-249 employees)
n.a. -n.a.-8.8%
(2014)
4b3 Selling Online Cross-border
% SMEs (no financial sector, 10+ employees)
8.9%
(2013)
 98.9%
(2013)
96.5%
(2013)

 

A true digital economy is one where businesses take full advantage of the possibilities and benefits offered by digital technologies, both to improve their efficiency and productivity, as well as to reach consumers and realise sales. To that end, Belgium has a relatively good performance. Belgian businesses exploit well most of the possibilities offered by on-line commerce, social media and cloud-based applications. 

Almost a quarter of its SMEs sell online and 9% do so cross-border, an important channel to address wider markets.

5. Digital Public Services

5 Digital Public ServicesBelgiumClusterEU
rankscorescorescore
DESI 2015120.480.510.47
DESI 201480.510.440.45

 

In the dimension of Digital Public Services Belgium scores 0.48 and thus ranks 12th among EU countries. There was growth in most of the monitored categories with an exception in the availability of pre-filled forms in online public services. However, since there were more rapid improvements in several leading EU countries in this dimension, Belgium dropped by four ranks last year.

 

 BelgiumEU
DESI 2015DESI 2014DESI 2015
valuerankvaluerankvalue
5a1 eGovernment Users
% individuals returning filled forms, out of Internet users in the last year (aged 16-74)
42%
(2014)
 938%
(2013)
833%
(2014)
5a2 Pre-filled Forms
Score (0 to 100)
62
(2014)
 1172
(2013)
545
(2014)
5a3 Online Service Completion
Score (0 to 100)
81
(2014)
 1274
(2013)
1475
(2014)
5a4 Open Data
Score (0 to 700)
320
(2014)
 16n.a.-378
(2014)
5b1 Medical Data Exchange
% General Practitioners
39%
(2013)
 939%
(2013)
936%
(2013)
5b2 ePrescription
% General Practitioners
4.9%
(2013)
 204.9%
(2013)
2027%
(2013)

 

Modern public services offered online in an efficient manner are a vehicle for reducing public spending as well as for driving efficiency gains for enterprises, citizens and the public administration itself. Despite its good overall ranking, Belgium still has considerable potential to improve its online public services. For instance, it appears that eGovernment solutions do not extend to the Belgian point of single contact for service providers[5] so that necessary procedures cannot be completed online.

The efficiency and degree of service offered by health systems can be greatly improved through digitisation. Belgium’s performance in eHealth can be improved, namely by encouraging a greater use of ePrescriptions: only 4.9% of Belgian general practitioners transfer prescriptions to pharmacists electronically, versus 27% on EU average.

 

 Download the eGovernment benchmark factsheet (EN)

6. R&D

 Download information on R&D in the ICT sector and participation in Horizon 2020 (EN)


[1] DESI scores range from 0 to 1, the higher the score the better the country performance.

[2] In the DESI 2015, the medium-performance cluster of countries comprises Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom

[4] Empirica, e-skills in Europe, country report Belgium, study commissioned by European Commission, 2014.

 

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Last updated on 18/06/2015