EU publishes the Digital Decade report

The report calls for measures to bridge these gaps and achieve the Digital Decade targets by 2030.

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The first report on the state of the Digital Decade was published on Wednesday, highlighting gaps in 5G network coverage and concerns about the use of AI by businesses. The EU has set measurable goals for digital skills, digital infrastructure, digitalisation of companies, and digitalisation of public services for 2030.

The Digital Decade framework aims to guide all actions related to digital and ensure technology and innovation benefit everyone. The report identifies gaps in progress towards achieving the Digital Decade targets. Věra Jourová, Vice President of Values and Transparency at the European Commission, stated that achieving the Digital Decade targets is still long and urged measures to bridge the gap and complete the digital transition by 2030.

However, the report’s findings have raised concerns. Bulgarian MEP Eva Maydell described the numbers in the report as ‘worrying’ and stressed the need to address EU competitiveness and advance a pro-innovation agenda. One significant gap identified is in the rollout of 5G networks. While 81% of the EU population now has access to 5G, this percentage is lower in rural areas (51%), and fibre networks, crucial for high-speed connectivity, are only accessible to just over half the population. The report suggests an additional investment of at least €200 billion for full high-speed internet coverage and 5G in populated areas. Lobbying groups representing Europe’s largest telecom operators argue that an ‘insurmountable’ amount would be needed to cope with exponential traffic growth.

The report also reveals variations in the use of AI across EU countries, with Denmark leading at 24% and Romania lagging at 1%. Additionally, there are significant differences in the rollout of fibre networks, with only 19% of the German population having access. Addressing digital skills, the EU aims to increase them by 80% in the 16-74 age group and have 20 million ICT specialists by 2030.

Why does it matter?

It emphasizes the need for investment in high-speed internet, 5G and AI, policies, and national strategies for semiconductors and digital skills. The report also reveals disparities in AI usage and fiber network rollout across EU countries. Member states will submit roadmaps for further actions. The report will be followed by the submission of national roadmaps by EU countries and discussions with relevant bodies to inform further actions. The report underscores the importance of investment, policy measures, and national strategies to bridge gaps and achieve the Digital Decade targets by 2030, enhancing the EU’s global competitiveness.