Spain advances two places in the European Union’s digitization index

Spain has advanced in terms of digitization and during the pandemic crisis it has remained above the EU average digitization levels.

This is the main conclusion drawn from the latest edition of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which is released annually by the European Commission. According to the results presented last Friday according to the analysis of 2020, Spain ranks 9th, compared to 11 recorded in the previous edition. They then overtook the United Kingdom, which disappeared from the list after Brexit, and Belgium, which slipped off this year’s ranking, again topping the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

Comments Borja Adsoara, lawyer and consultant who co-developed the first Digital Spain Plan in 2000 (in addition to directing the public entity Red.es).

To draw conclusions about a country’s digital competitiveness, DESI measures four main areas: population skills, communication infrastructures, integration of technologies by businesses, and digital public services.

The arrival of European money can help digitize SMEs

Spain receives special attention in terms of connectivity: it ranks third in the ranking, thanks to its extensive broadband network and the introduction of optical fibers. However, it is below average in 5G implementation, an area where a jump is expected as refund money arrives.

Advances in public administration are also noteworthy. “The digitization of collection agencies is well recognized. A good example is the Tax Agency and the General Directorate of Traffic and Social Insurance. On the other hand, health and education are not,” says Adsuara.

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Spain ranks worst in human capital preparation. Although 57% of the population has basic digital skills (compared to 56% on average in the European Union), the state suspends ICT specialist. The presence of tech professionals is just 3.8%, compared to 4.3% for the EU average and 5.5% for Denmark (leading in the ranking). “It is desirable to improve adherence to vocational training in computer and electronics jobs since there is a shortage of a critical mass of professionals,” he says.

Another area with room for improvement is the digitization of companies, the Spanish Achilles heel, for many years now, due to the slow progress of SMEs and SMEs, Spain ranks 16th out of 27 in this regard. According to the report, the use of cloud technologies, the management of big data businesses, as well as the implementation of artificial intelligence systems are still in the minority. DESI also places Spanish companies below average in terms of e-commerce use. 10% of companies have an online channel, compared to 12% of the European average, in a year when online transactions accelerated like never before.

The UK’s exit from the European Union benefits Spain in the Denmark-led arrangement

The arrival of the next generation funds as well as the plan approved by the government Digital Spain 2025 – which is considering mobilizing an investment of 140,000 euros from the public and private sectors – could give a final impetus in the training of ICT professionals and the digitization of SMEs. Adswara views the plan as an ambitious measure, but urges the authorities not to repeat the mistakes of the past. “Evaluation of the results of previous digitization plans has always been neglected, so it was impossible to verify their effectiveness,” he added.

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On the results for the European Union as a whole, the Commission on Friday highlighted overall progress across all countries but stressed that the usual disparities still existed between countries at the top of the ranking and those at the bottom. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said investments through the Resilience and Recovery Mechanism should help cut it off.

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