The digital economy – provided that it is efficient, inclusive and innovative - has the potential to transform both business and society as a whole. The key to progress is to provide better products and services through new, more effective processes.
One of the majority – a regular internet user.
The digital economy is growing 7 times faster than the real economy. The information and communication technology (ICT) sector represents 4.8% of the EU economy. ICT accounts for 25% of all business expenditure on research and development (R&D), while investment in this sector generates 50% of all productivity growth in the EU.
Digital technologies underpin innovation and competitiveness in the private and public sectors alike and scientific progress in all disciplines.
However, the ICT sector in the EU has been held back by a patchy policy framework. The European Commission has therefore been working to improve this framework, with an emphasis on:
The EU's Digital Agenda for Europe aims to reboot Europe's economy and help EU citizens and businesses get the most out of digital technologies. Creating a digital single market will bring long-term economic and social benefits.
The Digital Agenda has already made progress towards 3 main objectives:
The digital economy has the potential to create a virtuous circle. Attractive content and services, made available in an interoperable, borderless internet environment, stimulate demand for higher speeds and capacity. This creates a business case for investing in faster networks, which in their turn pave the way for innovative services based on higher speeds.
The Commission has set itself 13 goals, each of which will bring the EU closer to the overall objective – a prosperous and competitive digital society.
The European Commission and EU countries are on track to meet 72 of the Commission's 101 digital targets by 2015, according to 2014 data. This is good progress. EU citizens and businesses are using the internet and shopping online more, their ICT skills are improving, and their confidence is growing.
|Basic broadband coverage for all||100%||100% (achieved 2013)|
|Digital single market|
|People buying online||47%||50% (2015)|
|People engaging in cross-border e-commerce||12%||20% (2015)|
|Small & medium-sized businesses selling online||14%||33% (2015)|
|Regular internet use||72%||75% (2015)|
|Disadvantaged people using the internet regularly||57%||60% (2015)|
|People who have never used the internet||20%||15% (2015)|
|Citizens interacting online with public authorities||42%||50% (2015)|
|Citizens returning forms completed online to public authorities by 2015||21%||25% (2015)|
Manuscript completed in July 2014
This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series