The European Commission has released its EU 2014 Digital Scoreboard. Overall, the conclusions are very positive – 95 out of 101 “digital actions” have been completed – although some challenges remain. In general, a larger share of EU citizens is on the internet and more people are online shoppers, compared to 2010. Main challenges remain in the area of getting high-speed access in remote areas.
“Most Europeans now live digital lives and they are hungry for more. We have solved the internet access problem. But the digital skills gap persists. Unless we all do more, we will face a digitally illiterate underclass in Europe,” Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the Commission and Digital Agenda Commissioner commented.
The European Commission has dedicated more time and energy in getting a digitalized Europe. The digital sector is often compared to have a revolutionary force such as electricity in the 19th century or the steam engine in the 18th century. The Digital Scoreboard keeps track to what extent policy initiatives are bearing fruit. This article presents the most important findings.
Most importantly for Ecommerce Europe, the Digital Scoreboard shows that the targets of internet shopping will be achieved. Currently, 47% of people buy on line, an increase of 10% points, and closing in on the 50% mark aimed in 2015. Further good news is that regular internet use is up: the number of people who use the Internet at least once per week has increased from 60% to 72%, compared to 2010 numbers. Especially in the periphery, Internet use has gone up. The best performers remain the northern countries, such as Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, with rates over 90% (for comparison: in the US, internet use is 87%). Secondly, there is big progress among disadvantaged groups – meaning the unemployed, low educated people and older groups. The numbers are impressive as the record shows that no 57% of these disadvantaged is using internet, growing from 41%.
Yet there is still a lot of ground to gain, especially for the e-commerce industry. The state of cross-border e-commerce is deplorable: only 12% of e-commerce goes cross-border. Also SMEs find it difficult to sell their goods online: only 14% of the companies with less than 250 employees sell online.
Ecommerce Europe welcomes the results of the Digital Scoreboard yet itbelieves that more should be done to counter the challenges. The change of powers in Brussels with the new European Parliament and the new European Commission provide an excellent opportunity to address the remaining issues. Ecommerce Europe calls for an integrated approach, a one-stop-shop, on issues related to e-commerce such as logistics, payments and regulations.