This is the state of digitalization in Europe in 2023 – Eurostat report

Growing digitalization saw more than 9 million in the EU employed as ICT specialists in 2022 – almost 5% of the bloc’s workforce.

Growing digitalization saw more than 9 million in the EU employed as ICT specialists in 2022 – almost 5% of the bloc’s workforce. Image: Unsplash/choys_

Johnny Wood
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  • Growing digitalization saw more than 9 million in the EU employed as ICT specialists in 2022 – almost 5% of the bloc’s workforce.
  • Yet, only 54% possessed basic or above basic digital skills in 2021.
  • Initiatives like the World Economic Forum’s Edison Alliance aim to foster greater digital inclusion through public and private partnerships.

Shopping online, connecting with friends on social media, attending work meetings remotely… we are all part of an increasingly digital world.

Digital transformation is one of the European Union’s (EU) key priorities, but how is this journey unfolding?

The 2023 edition of Eurostat's Digitalisation in Europe report reveals a snapshot of how EU countries are embracing the digital age.

1. Digital transformation

The growing integration of digital technologies into our daily working and social lives has prompted a spike in demand for information and communication technology (ICT) professionals.

More than 9 million people in EU member states were employed as ICT specialists in 2022, accounting for almost 5% of the bloc’s workforce, and this figure has been growing over time, up 1.4 percentage points since 2012.

The gender ratio of people in ICT roles was heavily skewed, with 81% male compared to 19% female. Bulgaria (29%) showed the highest proportion of female ITC workforce, followed by Romania and Estonia (both with 25%).

Across the EU population, 54% possessed basic or above basic digital skills in 2021, the report found. Put another way, almost half lacked basic IT skills, which hints at a digital divide that could exclude some parts of the EU population.

The share of people with basic digital skills was largest in Finland and the Netherlands (both with 79%), followed by Ireland (70%) and Denmark (69%).

For businesses, 70% of all EU companies achieved a basic level of digital intensity in 2022, based on the number of digital technologies used.

The share of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) achieving this basic level reached 69% – 20 percentage points below the EU 2030 target – alongside a much higher 98% share of large businesses.

Cloud computing services were used by 41% of EU businesses in 2021, with a higher percentage of large businesses (72%) than SMEs (40%).

Just 8% of the bloc’s companies used artificial intelligence in 2021, with again more large businesses using it than SMEs. Denmark (24%) had the highest AI takeup, followed by Portugal (17%), with Romania (1%) achieving the lowest adoption rate

Generative AI features in the World Economic Forum’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2023 list of emerging technologies, with a range of applications that could transform multiple fields.

2. People online

Almost 90% of EU citizens access the internet at least once per week, says Eurostat. More than 70% of people went online in 2022 to find information about goods and services, make phone or video calls, watch TV or video streams, or to read the news.

Other popular internet activities include online banking (66%), social networks (65%), listening to music (60%) and seeking health information (58%).

The report found that three-quarters of people in the EU shopped online for goods or services in 2022, up from 55% a decade earlier. Online shopping was most popular among the 16-24 age group, with more than four-fifths taking part, compared to slightly more than half of the 65-74 age group.

goods and services bought online, 2022. digitalization Europe
Bulgaria recorded the highest share of online shoppers buying clothing. Image: Eurostat

Clothes, shoes or accessories topped the most-bought-item list, with around 68% of people purchasing these items online. More than four-fifths of online shoppers in Bulgaria ordered clothes, more than any other country, followed by Romania (77%) and Cyprus (76%).

Two in every three internet users used interconnected devices or systems, such as game consoles, smart watches, IoT electrical appliances and smart home energy meters.

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3. Businesses online

Nearly all EU businesses – SMEs (94%) and large businesses (99%) – had broadband internet access in 2022.

Of these, half conduct meetings online, while more than half promote their goods and services on social media channels. In 2022, 23% of EU businesses made e-sales, up from 16% a decade earlier.

Online sales made up 18% of EU business turnover. Almost a fifth of EU businesses used websites or apps to sell their goods or services: 17% through their own site or app and 9% using an e-commerce marketplace site.

online businesses e-sales digitalization ecommerce
Ireland had the highest share of online businesses in the EU in 2022. Image: Eurostat

Ireland had a higher proportion (42%) of businesses selling online than any other EU country, followed by Sweden and Lithuania (both with 38%). Romania, Luxemburg and Bulgaria had the smallest shares.


EDISON Alliance: What is the Forum doing to close the digital gap?

World Economic Forum initiative The Edison Alliance aims to foster digital inclusion by accelerating collaboration between the ICT community and other critical sectors of the economy, particularly focusing on health, education and financial inclusion.

More than a third of the global population has no access to the online world. More needs to be done to ensure equal access to the opportunities a digital transformation offers.

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