The proportion of businesses using cloud technology must significantly increase in order to meet the European Commission’s Digital Decade 2030 goal, according to a new report out on Wednesday.
The EU’s Digital Decade, which sets key targets on different digital areas until 2030, is the EU’s vision for Europe’s digital transformation and a critical element in Europe maintaining its global competitiveness in a rapidly changing world.
According to the report, only around a quarter (26%) of all EU companies currently use cloud computing services, which is far short of the 75% target by 2030. This means from now until 2030, the EU needs to make up a gap of 49%. Cloud services can help increase data security, drive efficiencies, help companies scale, yield insights and reduce costs for businesses, meaning they are critical to their overall success, ability to grow and support Europe’s overall competitiveness.
It is not only EU companies falling short on targets. The proportion of households covered by very high-capacity networks is up 9% in 2021 compared to the previous year, meaning a gap of 41% still exists. Plugging this gap could prove challenging to most, if not all Member States, due to the high costs and operational challenges in deploying these networks in remote areas.
The report was produced by Deloitte and commissioned by Vodafone.
A lack of ICT specialists is also inhibiting progress against the Digital Decade targets, jeopardising Europe’s ability to scale up technologies required to lead globally. Across the EU27, the number of ICT specialists currently stands at 8.43 million. While this number has increased the most in Germany, Ireland and Hungary over the past year, across the EU as a whole this figure needs to more than double in order to meet the 20 million ICT specialists Digital Decade goal.
Digital intensity of SMEs has remained relatively flat over the past five years, with the average annual growth rate across the EU between 2016-2021 standing at just 2%. Digital intensity is defined according to the Digital intensity Index which measures the availability of 12 different digital technologies including access to fast broadband (30 Mbps or above) and ICT specialists. In some instances,
Member States are now further behind on their goals than they were five years ago. For example, Czechia was 14 percentage points further behind their 2030 target in 2021 compared to 2019, Portugal 9 percentage points. Germany 5, Ireland 3, France 2. However, Poland showed signs of progress and was 14 percentage points closer to their 2030 target compared to 2019 and Italy 11 percentage points higher.
On Wednesday, Joakim Reiter, Chief External Affairs Officer, Vodafone Group, said: “It’s critical for Europe that it closes the gaps on the Digital Decade targets highlighted in this report. Without ICT specialists and SMEs digitalised and fit for the future, it will be difficult for Europe to compete in global markets and to build the digital industrial solutions of tomorrow.”
“All countries must participate in strengthening and enhancing our continent’s digital capabilities. Simply put, progress in only some Member States will not be enough to achieve Europe’s digital ambitions. While these gaps remain, our vision of a competitive, greener and more resilient Europe moves further away. Indeed, the European Parliament recently estimated that the cost of inaction will stand at €1.3 trillion by 2032.”
Member States whose GDP fell more than forecast by the Commission will see an increase in their funds and grants available to them. Germany, Portugal and Spain may see the largest relative increases in grants, whereas Ireland, Romania and the Netherlands may see the largest relative decreases in grants due to better than forecast rises in GDP.
Meanwhile, a new platform has been launched which is designed to connect road users directly with transport authorities and each other.
It is said the platform will enable safety information, hazard warnings and traffic updates to be shared in real-time no matter which device or in-vehicle system they are using.
The platform is compatible with all third-party apps and in-vehicle navigation systems. Vodafone is collaborating with several partners to bring the technology to road users and plans to launch the platform within its own Vodafone Automotive apps later this year.
The new platform, launched by Vodafone and called Safer Transport for Europe Platform (STEP), aims to address the problem of data fragmentation and information silos that limit the benefits connectivity can bring to road safety. Transport authorities today are often limited to delivering safety updates through road infrastructure – motorway gantries, variable-message or matrix signs and so on – or via a limited number of technologies developed by independent manufacturers, such as in-vehicle navigation systems.
STEP offers a solution to these challenges. As a cloud-based platform built on open, industry standards, STEP enables a wide eco-system of participants – governments, transport authorities, vehicle manufacturers, mobility service providers and other mobile network operators – to work together to improve road safety across Europe.
Reiter said: “Improving road safety is still a major challenge for Europe. We believe that open platforms for faster, more efficient data sharing can play a significant role in helping prevent the unnecessary fatalities and injuries happening on our roads each year.”
STEP is designed to be compatible with all map apps and in-vehicle navigation systems developed by partner organisations, and users will benefit from free access to the platform and its safety features.