Spain improves its score in practically all the areas of the latest European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). We stand out in e-government, where we have moved up two positions; and in connectivity, where we maintain a score of 5.
Spain is making progress in its digital transformation. This is reflected in the latest Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) published on 11 June by the European Commission. A study which since 2014, the executive institution of the European Union monitors the digital progress of the Member States through different indicators.
In the 2020 edition, Spain improved its score in four of the five areas and also increased its overall score, going from 53.6 points in 2019 to 57.5 points in 2020, meaning that we came in 11th place in the general ranking of the 28 EU Member States. The ranking is led by Finland (72.3), followed by Sweden (69.7) and Denmark (69.1), all based on pre-pandemic data.
The section in which Spain particularly stands out is in Digital Public Services, (as the report points out), to the timely implementation of a default digital strategy throughout its central administration. Due to this, Spain has improved its score, reaching 87.3 points, well above the EU average of 72 points, and increasing 6.4 points with respect to 2019. These results mean that the country has gone from fourth to second place in the ranking, just behind Estonia, with a score of 89.3.
The European Commission’s report shows the high level of online interaction between public authorities, citizens and businesses. The country had particularly good results in the indicator relating to digital public services for businesses, where it reaches 93 points (above the European average of 88); in the open data indicator, with 90 points (exceeding the EU average of 66). Likewise, 82% of Spanish Internet users actively participate in e-government services, gaining 6 points compared to the previous year and 15 more than in 2018.
The DESI report highlights that the country’s investment in open public administration data is “an example to be followed by the large EU economies”, and that more than 98% of public services are ready to go digital thanks to the implementation of the ICT Strategic Plan for 2015-2020. It also considers that the country can further extend its excellent performance in e-government if it can achieve consensus among all public administrations.
The European Commission’s document also highlights Spain’s major progress in cybersecurity. In fact, according to the latest Global Cybersecurity Index of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), our country is the 7th country (out of a total of 193 ITU member states) most committed to cybersecurity.
In the top 5 of connectivity
The second area in which Spain obtains the best position is that of Connectivity. It has gone from 55.4 points in 2019 to 60.8 points in 2020 (more than 10 points above the European average), and consolidates its 5th position in the DESI ranking. It is only surpassed by Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg and Latvia.
The country is particularly well placed thanks to the extensive implementation of very high capacity networks, covering 89% of Spanish households, 12% more than last year and well above the EU average of 44%. The deployment of fibre optic networks (FTTP) remains a key feature of the Spanish digital market, with coverage of 80% of households, well above the EU average of 34%. Despite differences between urban and rural areas, fibre optic network coverage in rural Spain reaches 46% of households, more than double the EU average (21%).
It is also above the EU average in terms of preparation for 5G technology, with 30% coverage and in tenth position.
Main challenges: the digitalisation of companies and training the population
As also indicated in the recent report on digital progress by the Telefónica Foundation, the great challenge of Spanish digitalisation lies in companies and in improving the digital skills of citizens.
Regarding the first aspect, included in the area of Integration of Digital Technology in the DESI report, Spain is ranked 13th among EU countries, with a score of 41.2 (0.1 less than the previous year), almost equal to the European average.
According to the European Commission document, 43% of Spanish companies have an electronic information exchange system (above the EU average of 34%), and 11% of the country’s businesses have access to macrodata analysis (1% below the European average). 16% of Spanish companies use the cloud (18% in the EU) and almost a third of businesses use social media. Slightly above the European average, 19% of SMEs sell online, but only 7% do so in other countries. Only 9% of their turnover comes from internet sales.
As the report highlights, Spain is working to improve this data. Among others, the ‘General Secretariat for Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SGIPYME) published in 2019 the ‘Strategic Framework for SME Policy 2030’. For its part, ‘The Agenda for Change: towards an inclusive and sustainable economy’ of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, also for 2019, aims to promote education, growth, quality employment, innovation and the digitalisation of companies, according to their economic sector. In addition, the strategies for the digitisation of the agri-food and forestry sector and the rural environment are closely linked to the ‘National Strategy for Addressing the Demographic Challenge’.
Spain is number 16 in the EU in terms of human capital and digital skills. Although it is improving its score, which this year reached 47.8 points (3 more than last year), and has moved up a position, it remains slightly below the EU average (49.3). Some 43% of people aged 16-74 in our country lack basic digital skills, a figure close to the European average, but which is nonetheless rising. Among other intiatives, through the digital training strategy of the Ministry of Economy, focused on key pillars such as inclusion, education, employability, SMEs, digital specialists and gender. It plans to mobilise 4 billion euros. This is in addition to the ‘First Strategic Plan for Vocational Training in the Education System 2019-2022’, adopted in November 2019.
Spain also improves in the use of Internet services by the population, reaching 60.8 points and 11th position, above the European average. 88% of Spanish citizens use the Internet, and among the most common activities are playing music, videos and games online (86%). 60% of Spanish Internet users use online banking and 64% make online purchases.