By Heini Järvinen

On 28 May 2014, the European Commission (EC) launched the “Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2014”, a report on the progress and trends of the EU Digital Agenda based on data from 2013. The report uses thirteen indicators to assess both the European Union and the Member states by means of comparing their performance with the goals set by the EC.

Out of the 101 actions foreseen to be completed by 2015, 95 have already been carried out. While access to basic broadband is the biggest conquest, as the Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes remarks, the biggest challenges for the Digital Agenda are the Internet penetration, eGovernment and e-commerce.

The internet is more and more present in the daily life of European citizens. The report states that “100% of Europeans now have access to broadband”. However, according to the EC, 20% of the EU citizens have never used the internet. Rural areas are not provided with a high speed broadband, and given that nearly half of the Europeans lack sufficient information and communications technology (ICT) skills, it is obvious that access is not equivalent to broadband subscription or actual usage. Accordingly, the European Commission recognises there is still room for improvement.

The European digital market is still segregated. On the private sector, the presence of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the online environment remains a field in which much more work needs to be done. The Commission hopes to have 33% of the SMEs offering their services online by 2015. Nonetheless, this goal will be hard to achieve due to the fact that,currently, only 14% of the SMEs sell online.

On the other hand, the EC urges public authorities to provide clearer, more transparent and easy-to-use websites, as emphasised in its 11th eGovernment Benchmark. Nowadays, electronic administration services are being used only by 42% of the EU population, and many of the existing eGovernment websites are often found difficult to access and to understand.

Overall, the push for innovation is one of the priorities of the EU Digital Agenda. This is confirmed by the fact that Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies now cover 62% of EU households. Yet, there is work to be done to provide the rest of the Europeans with sufficient skills and knowledge, along with the technical conditions, to fully update the continent to the digital age. To that end, more public funding should be destined because “public R&D for ICT has stopped growing”, the report states.

Scoreboard 2014 – Progress Report Digital Agenda Targets 2014 (28.05.2014)
https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/scoreboard-2014-progress-report-digital-agenda-targets-2014

The EU 2014 Digital Scoreboard: how did you fare? (28.05.2014)
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-609_en.htm

Does digital technology create or kill jobs? Do Europeans have the digital skills needed to get a job and keep a job? (28.05.2014)
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-383_en.htm

EU eGovernment Report 2014 shows that usability of online public services is improving, but not fast (23.05.2014)
https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/eu-egovernment-report-2014-shows-usability-online-public-services-improving-not-fast

Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs
http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/grand-coalition-digital-jobs-0

(Contribution by Maryant Fernandez Perez, EDRi intern)