In the Member States of the European Union, companies are not keeping pace with technology and digitisation. According to the results of "The Digital Economy and Society Index" (DESI), published by the European Commission, Member States have made progress in their efforts to digitise but are still struggling to fill gaps in digital skills, digitisation of SMEs and deployment of advanced 5G networks. The results show that, although most Member States are advancing in the digital transformation, companies are still struggling to adopt key digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden remain at the forefront of the EU. But even these countries have gaps in key areas: the spread of advanced digital technologies such as AI and big data, which remains below 30% and far from the target of the digital decade of 75% for 2030; the widespread shortage of qualified personnel, which slows general progress and leads to digital exclusion.
There is a general positive trend towards convergence: the level of digitisation in the EU continues to improve and Member States starting from the lowest levels grow at a faster rate, catching up little by little. In particular, Italy, Poland and Greece have significantly improved their DESI scores over the last 5 years, making substantial investments thanks to a greater political focus on digital, also with the help of European funding.
Only 54% of Europeans aged 16-74 have at least basic digital skills: the goal of the digital decade is to reach at least 80% by 2030. In addition, although 500.000 Information and Communication Technologies specialists (ICT) entered the labour market between 2020 and 2021. The 9 million specialists in the EU are well below the target of reaching 20 million ICT specialists by 2030 and are not enough to address the shortage of qualified personnel that is plaguing businesses. In 2020, more than half of EU businesses (55%) reported difficulties filling vacancies for ICT specialists. Only 55% of SMEs in the EU have at least a basic level of digitisation (with a target of at least 90% by 2030), indicating that almost half of SMEs do not make use of the opportunities created by digital. This deficiency is a major obstacle to the recovery and competitiveness of EU businesses.