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Digital transformation adoption in Spain (DESI 2022)

Spain ranks 7 th of 27 EU Member States in the 2022 edition of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). The country is making relative progress1 and overperforming versus previous years, especially on integration of digital technology (ranking 11 th , 5 positions above 2021), and also on digital public services (5 th compared to the 7th place in 2021) and human capital (10th compared to 12th). Spain is an EU leader in connectivity and ranks 3 rd for the second consecutive year.

On the human capital dimension, Spain is a relatively good performer on basic digital skills whereas it is below the EU average as regards the proportion of ICT specialists and of ICT graduates.

The rate of people in Spain having at least basic digital skills is above the EU average (64% compared to 54%) and has significantly increased during the last years.

The number of ICT specialists in employment in Spain is 4.1% compared to the EU average of 4.5%. The shortage of advanced digital experts hampers the country’s growth prospects and constrains productivity, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-enterprises.

Several measures outlined in Spain’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) support the acquisition of digital skills, especially for employees of SMEs. Those measures, together with other technology-specific initiatives such as for cybersecurity or artificial intelligence (AI), are expected to reduce the labour market gap for ICT specialists as well as the ICT gender gap.

On digital connectivity, Spain is one of the top EU performers. It continues its steady progress in the roll-out of very high capacity networks (VHCN) and is pursuing strategic reforms and investments under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) to help achieve the Digital Decade connectivity targets and reduce the digital gap between urban and rural areas.

On integration of digital technologies, the percentage of SMEs with a basic level of digital intensity and using social media is above the EU average. But Spain’s enterprises are still lagging behind on new and advanced technologies such as cloud or big data.

The lack of a critical mass of digitally-trained workers hinders the integration of digital technologies into Spain’s enterprises in general, and SMEs and micro-enterprises in particular, who need digital-skilled professionals to develop further and become more competitive in the digital economy.

The SME Digitalisation Plan 2021-2025 will help boost disruptive innovations and entrepreneurship in digital fields, together with other relevant policies and strategies already in place (e.g. Spain Entrepreneurial Nation and the Digital Rights Charter) or under development (e.g. the Start-ups Law).

On digital public services, Spain has traditionally been a front-runner and it continues to put in place new services and infrastructures to respond to the rapid development of technology and to people’s needs.

Spain is committed to modernise its public administration in order to make it more accessible for enterprises and the public. It proactively develops new digital services, particularly in the areas of health, digital identification, cybersecurity, mobile apps and integrating AI into the public sector.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Spain adopted a national response plan setting out urgent measures (e.g., updated and strengthened the national cybersecurity strategy, and the adoption of measures aligned with EU recommendations to secure 5G deployment).

Several important communication campaigns have been put in place to promote cybersecurity awareness and combat disinformation.

One campaign was also launched to help people fleeing Ukraine to Spain. In addition, Spain adopted the measures set out in the Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/351 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine.