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Digital Economy & Society

The Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI)

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is a composite index that summarises relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU member states in digital competitiveness.

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)

The DESI is structured around five principal dimensions:

  • 1 Connectivity

    The Connectivity dimension measures the deployment of broadband infrastructure and its quality. Access to fast broadband-enabled services is a necessary condition for competitiveness. (read more)

  • 2 Human Capital

    The Human Capital dimension measures the skills needed to take advantage of the possibilities offered by a digital society. Such skills go from basic user skills that enable individuals to interact online and consume digital goods and services, to advanced skills that empower the workforce to take advantage of technology for enhanced productivity and economic growth. (read more)

  • 3 Use of Internet

    The Use of Internet dimension accounts for the variety of activities performed by citizens already online. Such activities range from consumption of online content (videos, music, games, etc.) to modern communication activities or online shopping and banking. (read more)

  • 4 Integration of Digital Technology

    The Integration of Digital Technology dimension measures the digitisation of businesses and their exploitation of the online sales channel. By adopting digital technology businesses can enhance efficiency, reduce costs and better engage customers, collaborators and business partners. Furthermore, the Internet as a sales outlet offers access to wider markets and potential for growth. (read more)

  • 5 Digital Public Services

    The Digital Public Services dimension measures the digitisation of public services, focusing on eGovernment. Modernisation and digitisation of public services can lead to efficiency gains for the public administration, citizens and businesses alike as well as to the delivery of better services for the citizen. (read more)

Due to the dynamic nature of the fields considered in the DESI, small changes are possible in the indicators considered in future editions the index.

Explore the DESI

DESI 2016

The DESI 2016 summarises data collected mostly during calendar year 2015, which are at the basis of the main DESI ranking of EU member states depicted below. Each score in the DESI is between 0 and 1, with higher values representing better performance.

The DESI 2016 shows that both the European Union as a whole as well as individual Member States are progressing towards a digital economy and society. However, member states are at different levels of development and are progressing at different speeds.

Europe is progressing, but the pace is slowing down

Overall, Europe is progressing. The EU as a whole attained a score of 0.52 in 2016, up from 0.50 last year.

Improvement in the overall DESI score was mostly driven by the Connectivity and Integration of Digital Technology dimensions, the two fastest growing dimensions in the index. Developments in Digital Public Services and Human Capital have all but stagnated this year.



However, European progress has slowed down. Over the past year, the EU progressed a mere 0.02, from 0.5 to 0.52, whereas from 2014 to 2015 the EU had progressed 0.04, from 0.46 to 0.5.

This slowing down has happened in 4 out of the 5 main DESI dimensions, with Integration of Digital Technology being the only dimension that has accelerated its growth: it grew 0.035 over the last year, more than the 0.023 it had grown from 2014 to 2015.

Member states are at different stages of development, and developing at different paces

Countries were grouped in clusters according to their score in DESI 2016 and to the growth they have registered between 2015 and 2016.

  • Running ahead countries are those that score above the EU average and whose score grew faster than that of the EU over the last year.
    These are countries that perform well and that have been developing at a pace that allows them to further distance themselves from the EU average.
    Countries in this cluster: Austria, Germany, Estonia, Malta, the Netherlands and Portugal.
  • Lagging ahead countries are those that score above the EU average but whose score grew slower than that of the EU over the last year.
    These countries perform well, but their development is now very slow and, as such, they are lagging in comparison to the progress of the EU as a whole.
    Countries in this cluster: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
  • Catching up countries are those that score below the EU average but whose score grew faster than that of the EU over the last year.
    These countries are developing faster than the EU as a whole and are thus catching up with the EU average.
    Countries in this cluster: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Romania and Slovenia.
  • Falling behind countries are those that score below the EU average and whose development over the last year was slower than that of the EU as a whole.
    These countries are already less developed than the EU average, and by showing anemic growth they are distancing themselves further from the rest of the EU.
    Countries in this cluster: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, France, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Over the course of last year, all EU countries have improved their score except for Sweden, who has stagnated at around 0.67. However, some countries have improved more than others:

  • The top performing countries were Denmark (0.68), the Netherlands (0.673), Sweden (0.672) and Finland (0.669).
  • On the other side of the scale, the bottom performing countries were Romania (0.35), Bulgaria (0.37), Greece (0.375) and Italy (0.4).
  • The countries that have improved the most from 2015 to 2016 were Croatia (from 0.37 to 0.42), Portugal (from 0.49 to 0.53), and Romania (from 0.32 to 0.35).
  • The gap between the best and worst performing countries is closing. This year, the difference between Denmark (0.68) and Romania (0.35) was 0.33, slightly smaller than in 2015, when it was 0.36. This is due to improvements registered by the bottom performing countries in tandem with the nearly inexistent growth by the top performers.
  • While 27 countries displayed positive net growth from 2015 to 2016, 24 of them have actually seen the pace of their growth slow down when compared to the previous year. The exceptions were Croatia (which grew 0.043 over the last year, more than the 0.017 that it had grown the year before), Portugal (growth of 0.039 last year versus 0.034 the year before) and Latvia (growth of 0.025 from 2015 to 2016, versus 0.23 from 2014 to 2015).




Last updated on 29/06/2016 - 18:14


Vincenzo Spiezia's picture
Vincenzo SPIEZIA
European Commission announced this year's version of Digital Economy & Society Index. It provides a simple and useful way to think of and to assess progress by all stakeholders in the digital economy.
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