European Neighbourhood Policy - East - statistics on science, technology and digital society

Data extracted in February 2020.

Planned article update: April 2021.

Highlights

Between 2008 and 2018 the mobile phone penetration rate increased in Georgia and Moldova by 94 % and 82 % respectively, resulting in higher rates than the EU average.

Among the ENP-East countries, the share of households with access to the internet at home in 2018 was highest in Azerbaijan (78 %) and lowest in Moldova (51 %), compared with 88 % in the EU.

Belarus and Ukraine had the highest R & D Intensity in 2018 among the ENP-East countries, with R & D expenditure equivalent to 0.61 % and 0.47 % of GDP respectively, compared with 2.19 % in the EU.

Mobile phone penetration, 2008 and 2018
(number of subscriptions per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat

This article is part of an online publication; it presents information for the European Union (EU) and six countries that together form the European Neighbourhood Policy-East (ENP-East) region, namely, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Data shown for Georgia exclude the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia over which Georgia does not exercise control and the data shown for Moldova exclude areas over which the government of the Republic of Moldova does not exercise control. The latest data for Ukraine generally exclude the illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol and the territories which are not under control of the Ukrainian government (see specific footnotes for precise coverage).

The first part of this article provides details in relation to telecommunications and ICT usage: the penetration rate of mobile phone subscriptions and fixed telephone lines, households having access to a personal computer or the internet, and the use of the internet by enterprises.

The second part of the article gives an overview relating to research and development (R & D): the level of gross domestic expenditure on R & D (GERD), the ratio of R & D expenditure to gross domestic product (GDP) (which is also known as R & D intensity), R & D expenditure by source of funds, and the number of R & D personnel and researchers.

Full article

Mobile phone subscriptions

In the EU-27 there were, on average, 1 176 mobile phone subscriptions per 1 000 inhabitants in 2018; in other words, there was an average of 1.2 mobile subscriptions per person. From the late 1980s and early 1990s the number of subscriptions increased rapidly as mobile phones became commonplace but in recent years the penetration rate has become relatively stable.

In 2018, the number of mobile phone subscriptions was higher than the number of inhabitants in all of the ENP-East countries, indicating that some people had more than one mobile subscription: this could result from some subscriptions remaining active even when they were no longer in use, or may be linked to some people having subscriptions for work and private use or because they owned several connected devices. Among the ENP-East countries, Georgia recorded the highest ratio of mobile phone subscriptions to population size in 2018, an average of 1 393 subscriptions per 1 000 inhabitants. Most of the other ENP-East countries recorded ratios of mobile phone subscriptions per inhabitant that were between 1 200 and 1 300 and therefore above the average for the EU-27. The one exception was Azerbaijan where the ratio was 1 053 per 1 000 inhabitants in 2018 and therefore around 10 % below the level in the EU-27.

There was a rapid take-up of mobile telephony services in several ENP-East countries

Over the period 2008-2018, the increase in the mobile phone penetration rate — the number of subscriptions relative to the size of the population — was fastest among the ENP-East countries in Georgia (see Figure 1), where the number of subscriptions per inhabitant nearly doubled, up 94 %. Moldova also recorded a relatively large increase (up 82 %), while increases in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus ranged from 44 % to 64 %. At 6 % the increase in Ukraine was notably lower although, as for the EU-27, the mobile phone penetration rate was already relatively high in 2008.

Figure 1: Mobile phone penetration, 2008 and 2018
(number of subscriptions per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_pjan) and the International Telecommunication Union

Fixed telephone lines

Figure 2 presents information on the number of fixed telephone lines per 1 000 inhabitants. Fixed telephone lines connect a customer’s equipment (telephone handset or fax machine) to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). This indicator, together with that for mobile telephony, is one of the broadest and most common measures used to evaluate the development of telecommunications.

As mobile technology became abundant, the number of fixed telephone lines fell in the EU and in most of the ENP-East countries

In the EU-27 there were, on average, 442 fixed telephone lines per 1 000 inhabitants in 2018. This figure was below the ratio recorded in 2008, when there had been, on average, 78 more fixed telephone lines per 1 000 inhabitants.

Figure 2: Fixed telephone line penetration, 2008 and 2018
(number of lines per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_pjan) and the International Telecommunication Union

Looking at the latest available data, Belarus and Armenia recorded the highest ratios of fixed telephone lines in 2018, with 474 and 462 per 1 000 inhabitants respectively (no data available for Moldova), both of which were therefore just above the EU-27 average. Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Georgia recorded much lower ratios, in the range of 118-149 fixed telephone lines per 1 000 inhabitants.

As in the EU-27, there was a reduction between 2008 and 2018 in the number of fixed telephone lines per 1 000 inhabitants in four of the five ENP-East countries for which a time series is available. Belarus was the exception as the ratio increased by 79 lines per 1 000 inhabitants, equivalent to an increase of 19.8 %. In Azerbaijan the overall decrease between 2008 and 2018 was very small (down 0.8 %) while elsewhere the decreases ranged from 20.9 % in Georgia to 46.8 % in Ukraine.

Access to a personal computer

As of 2018, 83 % of households in the EU-27 had access to a personal computer (PC); this marked an increase of 4 percentage points when compared with 2013 (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Proportion of households having access to a personal computer, 2013 and 2018
(%)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_cm_h)

Just over three quarters of households in Belarus had access to a PC

The proportion of households with access to a PC in the ENP-East countries was lower than in the EU-27. Just over three quarters (76 %) of households in Belarus had access to a PC in 2018, while the share was around two thirds in Georgia (65 %), Armenia (65 %; 2017 data) and Azerbaijan (64 %). The corresponding ratios in Ukraine (2016 data) and Moldova were somewhat lower but nevertheless above half: 57 % in Ukraine and 51 % in Moldova. All of the ENP-East countries for which a time series is available reported an increase in this ratio between 2013 and 2018. The largest increase was in Georgia where the ratio increased by 22 percentage points (note that there is a break in series).

Access to the internet

Widespread access to the internet (via broadband) is seen as essential for the development of advanced services on the internet, such as e-business, e-government or e-learning. In the EU-27, the proportion of households with access to the internet was 88 % in 2018, slightly higher than the proportion of households with access to a PC (83 %). The proportion of households in the EU-27 having access to the internet rose by 11 percentage points between 2013 and 2018 (see Figure 4); as such it outstripped the growth in the proportion of households having access to a PC.

Figure 4: Proportion of households having access to the internet at home, 2013 and 2018
(%)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_in_h)

Just over three quarters of households had access to the internet at home in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Georgia

As with household access to PCs, a generally lower proportion of households in the ENP-East countries had access to the internet at home when compared with the proportion of households in the EU-27. The highest shares recorded among the ENP-East countries were for Azerbaijan (78 %), Belarus and Georgia (both 76 %). In Armenia (2017 data) and Ukraine the shares were just under two thirds (64 % and 62 % respectively) while in Moldova just over half (51 %) of all households had access to the internet at home.

In recent years all six ENP-East countries recorded increases in the proportion of households having access to the internet. By far the largest increase was in Georgia as the proportion in 2018 was 38 percentage points higher than in 2013, although it should be noted that there is a break in series. Increases between 16 and 20 percentage points were observed in Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia (2013-2017) and Moldova, with the increase in Azerbaijan (up 7 percentage points) notably smaller. By comparison, the increase recorded for the EU-27 was 11 percentage points as household internet access continued to increase despite already being at a high level.

Azerbaijan had a notably lower proportion of enterprises that had access to the internet

The data shown in Figure 5 for the proportion of enterprises having access to the internet refer to enterprises with 10 or more persons employed (unless otherwise footnoted). Practically all of the enterprises in the EU-27 (97 %) had access to the internet in 2018. Similarly high proportions were reported in Belarus, Georgia (2016 data) and Ukraine while a notably lower proportion — 69 % — was recorded for Azerbaijan; no recent data are available for Armenia or Moldova. Comparing the data for the two years shown in Figure 5 there has been little change in this ratio in recent years, neither in the EU-27 nor in the ENP-East countries for which data are available.

Figure 5: Proportion of enterprises having access to the internet, 2013 and 2018
(%)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_in_en2)

Research and development expenditure

R & D comprises creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society and the use of this stock of knowledge to develop new applications.

In 2018, gross expenditure on R & D was valued at EUR 295 billion in the EU-27, which was 23.0 % higher than five years earlier. R & D expenditure in Ukraine was valued at EUR 522 million, which was equivalent to 0.2 % of the level in the EU-27. Belarus recorded EUR 307 million of R & D expenditure while in the remaining ENP-East countries for which data are shown in Table 1 (no recent data for Georgia) the level of expenditure was considerably lower, ranging from EUR 73 million in Azerbaijan to EUR 22 million in Armenia (2016 data).

Armenia and Moldova reported increases in R & D expenditure between the years shown in Table 1. By contrast, expenditure in Ukraine (note that there is a break in series), Azerbaijan and Belarus declined.

Table 1: Gross domestic expenditure on research & development, 2013 and 2018
Source: Eurostat (rd_e_gerdtot)

Moldova and Ukraine had the highest R & D intensity among the ENP-East countries

The relatively high level of R & D expenditure in Ukraine and Belarus compared with the other ENP-East countries was only partly because of their larger size, as can be seen from the ratios of R & D expenditure to the size of the population and to the size of the economy. R & D expenditure in Belarus was equivalent to EUR 32 per inhabitant in 2018, more than twice as high as the EUR 12 per inhabitant value in Ukraine which in turn was notably higher than the next highest averages, EUR 7.4 per inhabitant in Armenia in 2016 and Azerbaijan in 2018. For comparison, R & D expenditure per inhabitant in the EU-27 was EUR 661.5 per inhabitant in 2018.

The range of R & D intensities (R & D expenditure relative to GDP) among the ENP-East countries was somewhat narrower, although Belarus and Ukraine again recorded the highest values (0.61 % and 0.47 % respectively), while Azerbaijan recorded the lowest intensity (0.18 %; 2016 data). For comparison, R & D intensity in the EU-27 was 2.19 % in 2018.

Figure 6 shows how R & D intensity developed over a 10-year period. For the early part of this period Ukraine recorded the highest R & D intensity among the ENP-East countries, but this dropped from a peak of 0.83 % in 2009 to 0.48 % by 2016 (in part due to a break in series in 2014) at which point in time it fell below the level in Belarus (whose R & D intensity had also fallen in recent years). Moldova reported a fairly steady decrease in its R & D intensity over the period under consideration, approximately halving in value but maintaining its third place among the ENP-East countries. Armenia and Azerbaijan recorded relatively sharp increases in their R & D intensities in 2009, a decline in 2010 and then a sustained period of relative stability until 2015, with a decline thereafter. The short time series available for Georgia shows more volatility, with a substantial increase in the intensity between 2008 and 2011 (overtaking Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2010) followed by a somewhat stronger fall between 2011 and 2013 (dropping back below Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2012).

Figure 6: Research and development intensity, 2008-2018
(% of GDP)
Source: Eurostat (rd_e_gerdtot)

An analysis of R & D expenditure by source of funds shows that close to three fifths (59 %) of the total expenditure within the EU-27 in 2017 was funded by business enterprises, while three tenths (30 %) was funded by government and nearly one tenth (9 %) came from abroad (foreign funds); the other sources include private non-profit organisations (1 %) and higher education (1 %) — see Figure 2. In Belarus, the business enterprise sector was also the largest source of funding for R & D, providing more than two thirds (69 %) of the total in 2018. By contrast, in Moldova and Azerbaijan the government sector provided more than two thirds (77 % and 69 % respectively) of funding, while in Ukraine this sector was also the largest source of funds with a 46 % share.

Figure 7: Distribution of the sources of research and development funds, 2018
(%)
Source: Eurostat (rd_e_gerdfund)

Compared with the EU-27, the higher education sector provided a relatively large proportion of R & D funding in Belarus (10 %) and to a lesser extent Moldova (3 %). Funds from abroad also played a much greater role in Ukraine than in the EU-27, providing more than one fifth (22 %) of funding in 2018.

Research and development personnel and researchers

The number of R & D personnel in the EU-27 increased in recent years. There were 2.80 million persons employed (in full-time equivalents) directly on R & D, as well as those providing direct services such as R & D managers, administrators and clerical staff in 2018 (see Table 2). This marked an increase of 452 000 (or 19.3 %) when compared with 2013. Among these were 1.77 million researchers, in other words professionals engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge, products, processes, methods and systems, and in related project management.

Table 2: Research & development personnel and researchers, 2013-2018
(thousands of full-time equivalents)
Source: Eurostat (rd_p_persocc)

Ukraine reported 66 000 R & D personnel in 2018, among which 42 000 researchers, the highest numbers among the ENP-East countries (no data available for Georgia). Belarus and Azerbaijan had the second and third highest numbers of R&D personnel and researchers; note that the data for R & D personnel for Belarus were somewhat overstated compared with the other countries as they are in head counts rather than converted to full-time equivalents. All five of the ENP-East countries reported fewer R & D personnel and fewer researchers in 2018 than they had in 2013.

Standardising these data to take account of the overall population size, the EU-27 had 4.0 researchers per 1 000 inhabitants in 2018. Among the ENP-East countries the highest ratios were recorded for Belarus and Azerbaijan where there were 1.9 and 1.5 researchers per 1 000 inhabitants respectively. This ratio was lowest in Moldova at 0.7 researchers per 1 000 inhabitants.

Figure 8: Number of researchers relative to population size, 2013 and 2018
(per 1 000 inhabitants; based on full-time equivalent units)
Source: Eurostat (rd_p_persocc) and (demo_pjan)

Data sources

The data for ENP-East countries are supplied by and under the responsibility of the national statistical authorities of each country on a voluntary basis. The data result from an annual data collection cycle that has been established by Eurostat. These statistics are available free-of-charge on Eurostat’s website, together with a range of additional indicators for ENP-East countries covering most socio-economic topics.

Information society

Eurostat’s survey on ICT usage in households and by individuals is an annual survey used to benchmark ICT-driven developments. Eurostat’s survey on ICT usage in enterprises is also an annual survey and generally covers enterprises with at least 10 persons employed; note that the activity coverage excludes financial and insurance activities (NACE Rev. 2 Section K). These surveys follow developments for a set of core variables over time and also provide greater depth for specific subjects (through ad-hoc additional survey modules). While the surveys initially concentrated on access and connectivity issues, their scope has subsequently been extended to cover a range of subjects (for example, e-government, social media or e-commerce). Within the European statistical system, these two surveys are based on two methodological manuals: one for enterprise statistics and one for statistics related to households and individuals; these manuals are updated annually. The definitions which the ENP-East countries have been asked to follow when providing data are based on the methodology contained within these two manuals.

Internet access of households refers to the percentage of households that have an internet access, so that anyone in the household could use the internet at home, if so desired, even simply to send an e-mail.

Research and development

Eurostat data on research and development (R & D) aim to show a comprehensive picture of the situation in the EU, covering indicators related to expenditure and personnel. Most of the main indicators within this domain are available at a national and a regional level for the EU Member States. The international standards for collecting and reporting data on research and experimental development are specified in the Frascati Manual. The definitions which the ENP countries have been asked to follow when providing data are based on the methodology contained within that manual.

Gross domestic expenditure on R & D (otherwise referred to as GERD) includes expenditure on R & D performed by business enterprises, higher education institutions, as well as government and private non-profit organisations. R & D expenditure by source of funds describes the origin of R & D funding. R & D intensity is defined as R & D expenditure relative to GDP (shown as a percentage).

R & D personnel consist of all individuals employed directly in the field of R & D, including persons providing direct services, such as managers, administrators and clerical staff.

Tables in this article use the following notation:

Value in italics     data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
: not available, confidential or unreliable value.

Context

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) affect people’s everyday lives in many ways, both at work and in the home, for example, through communications with friends and colleagues or buying and ordering goods online. The development and expansion of the information society is regarded as critical to improve the competitiveness of the EU, while EU policymakers also seek to regulate specific areas, such as e-commerce or the protection of an individual’s privacy when using such technologies.

R & D is the main driver of innovation, with the level of R & D expenditure and the ratio of R & D intensity being two of the key indicators used to monitor resources devoted to science and technology.

On 18 November 2015, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission jointly presented a review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (SWD(2015) 500 final) which underlined a new approach for the EU in relation to its eastern and southern neighbours, based on stabilising the region in political, economic, and security-related terms.

In cooperation with its ENP partners, Eurostat has the responsibility ‘to promote and implement the use of European and internationally recognised standards and methodology for the production of statistics, necessary for developing and monitoring policy achievements in all policy areas’. Eurostat undertakes the task of coordinating EU efforts to increase the statistical capacity of the ENP countries. Additional information on the policy context of the ENP is provided here.

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European Neighbourhood Policy - East - statistics on science, technology and digital society