The European Commission has now proclaimed the Digital Decade. With a digital compass, the Union's digital policy should become more sovereign, fairer and more sustainable by 2030. But what is the starting position?
The four goals are clear: skills, secure and sustainable infrastructure, digital change in businesses and the digitisation of public services. In detail, the Commission wants at least eight in ten adults to have basic digital skills by 2030. The proportion of women in the information and communication technology sector is expected to grow and at the same time rise to 20 million skilled workers.
By then, all households in the EU should have a gigabit connection and all populated areas should be supplied with 5G networks. One in five ultra-modern and sustainable semiconductors worldwide is to be manufactured in Europe. In the EU, 10,000 climate-neutral, highly secure edge nodes should be set up and Europe should have its first quantum computer.
Three out of four companies should use cloud computing services, “big data” and artificial intelligence. More than nine in ten of SMEs should have achieved at least basic digital intensity and the number of start-up unicorns in the EU should have doubled.
With the digitisation of public services, all major public services should be available online by 2030. All citizens will have access to their electronic patient files and 80 percent of them should use an eID solution.
The Politico intelligence service looked at the starting position around ten years before the planned goal (see PDF below). The range of basic digital skills among adults in the EU is wide. It ranges from bottom Bulgaria with around 25 percent to the front runner in the Netherlands with a little more than 75 percent. The figures look at the year 2019, the target value for the year 2030 is 80 percent. With around 70 percent, Austria is in fifth place. In seven countries it even decreased between 2015 and 2019; namely in Denmark, Luxembourg, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Italy and Bulgaria.
7.8 million people will work in the EU in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) in 2019. By 2030 this should be 20 million and the proportion of women should be increased significantly. In 2019 this was 18 percent, in 2010 it was 23, although this value fell in 2011 and is steadily increasing. The smallest proportion of women in the ICT sector was in the Czech Republic and Hungary in 2019, and the highest in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe. Bulgaria leads the ranking with 28 percent.
There is a lot to be done in the digital transformation of businesses. The shares of companies in countries that use artificial intelligence are consistently in the low single-digit percentage range. The values for big data analyses, which are used in up to every fourth company in some countries, are a little better. According to the Commission's plans, three out of four should use cloud computing services. In 2020 only Finland had this value, followed closely by Sweden and Denmark. At the bottom of the list are Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, where not even one in four companies used such services. Austria ranked in the middle for all these values.
If the Commission calls for gigabit connections in every household by 2030, then rural areas in particular have some catching up to do. In 2020, 59 percent of all EU households were provided with a connection with more than 1 Gbit/s bandwidth. For 5G coverage in people's living space in the EU, the starting value this year is 14 percent and should reach 100 percent in nine years.