"Ladies and gentlemen
In Europe, more and more people, businesses and services are going digital. That is clear from the latest Digital Economy and Society Index issued today.
As a whole, the EU has seen steady progress over the last three years. Slow, perhaps – but steady. Connectivity has improved. Businesses and public administrations are making more use of digital technologies.
So are people: 79% of Europeans go online at least once a week, 3 percentage points more than last year, for everyday tasks like shopping and banking. They are also using more online public services than before.
This is all good news. But we should not get complacent. There are still too many differences between countries. The gap between countries' overall digital performance is still there.
Countries need to act now so that we reduce the digital divide. Otherwise, we may risk ending up with a two-speed Europe on digital. That would not help Europe as a whole.
The idea of the DSM is for it to be exactly that: A single market for digital in Europe. Not a patchy fragmented digital space that is home to major national differences.
It is great to see that the top few EU countries in this year's ranking also lead worldwide. Despite that, the EU needs to do more to improve its overall digital performance. On connectivity, for example, Europe now has good coverage of high-speed fixed broadband. But there are many problems in rural areas. There is a lot of work to do here as we approach and prepare for rolling out 5G mobile networks.
I mentioned that businesses are turning more digital. But e-commerce is growing only slowly. At the moment, 17% of SMEs sell online. Less than half who sell domestically sell online to another EU Member State. Those figures should be a lot higher.
As part of the DSM, we have already proposed action to improve many of the main problem areas: e-commerce, high connectivity, digitisation of industry. Countries need to invest if they are to benefit from the DSM and make the most of the many opportunities that it offers. I am not only talking about cash investment. To advance in the digital age also requires political commitment and engagement, especially in areas like digital skills. I believe there is ample scope for countries that are doing less well to catch up.
As we work together to build a DSM, the Digital Economy and Society Index can help EU countries to identify areas that need priority investments and action. And as always, the Commission is ready to help and offer advice.
In May, along with the DSM review, we will publish a comprehensive analysis of digital policies for each EU country.
I will now take your questions."
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