Estonia ranks seventh in EU digital economy index
Estonia ranks seventh among the 28 member states of the European Union in the EU's Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2016, and is listed as one of the nations in the "Running ahead" cluster.
Estonia's scores are above the EU average and have improved rapidly compared with last year. Estonia has been at the forefront of online public services for years and is the best-performing country in Europe in 2016, the report says.
Estonia is also strongly committed to the implementation of the once-only principle, reusing previous information to lower the burden on citizens by way of pre-filled forms better than every other EU country.
22% of Estonians shop cross-border, a higher rate than the European average. Despite progress, the greatest challenge in terms of digitization is the integration of digital technology by businesses.
In integration of digital technology by businesses, Estonia scores 0.28 and ranks 22nd, its weakest score among the five DESI 2016 dimensions. The uptake of digital technologies and practices by businesses has been slow, and Estonia's businesses are only starting to exploit the possibilities offered by online commerce, the report says.
Estonia scores well in broadband, both mobile and fixed. However, it occupies the third to last position in terms of availability of fixed broadband, which is available to 89% of homes.
At the same time, in June 2015 coverage of fast broadband networks offering speeds of at least 30 Mbps was significant, covering 86% of homes in Estonia. With an increase in fixed broadband, there has also been an increase in the share of subscriptions to fast broadband services, from 24% to 27%, approaching the EU average of 30%.
In terms of the propensity of individuals to use Internet services, Estonia scores 0.56 and ranks fifth among all EU countries. While the consumption of music, video, and games content by Estonians is at levels comparable to the EU average, there has been a considerable increase in online shopping.
Estonian Internet users are well-versed in the variety of online activities available to them. They are at the forefront of Internet use in Europe in areas like online banking, with 91%, and the consumption of news content, also 91%. In general Estonia scores above the EU average in almost all categories, with the exception of video on demand and social media.
The digital skills levels of Estonians are above those of the average EU user. Moreover, the share of ICT specialists in the workforce is well above the EU average. The same cannot be said for STEM, or science, technology, and mathematics graduates, where Estonia still lags behind despite a small increase compared to the previous year. Given that 51% of companies reported difficulties recruiting ICT specialists, Estonia needs to address this skills gap to remain competitive in the digital economy.
The survey shows Estonia as belonging in the cluster of "Running ahead" countries, or those that score above the EU average and whose score grew faster than that of the EU over the last year. These are countries that perform well and that have been developing at a pace that allows them to further distance themselves from the EU average. The other countries in this cluster are Austria, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, and Portugal.