Investment in digitalization in the EU as a response to Covid-19

Actualidad May 27, 2022

Although we are in the last throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, its consequences are still being analysed. When it comes to business and technology, the number of aspects to be investigated soars.

A report by the European Investment Bank (EIB) explains that half of the companies in the European Union opted for investment in digitalization as a response to the pandemic. In this Befree blog post we explain it in more detail.

An overview of the situation

The report opens with an overview by Debora Revoltella, head of the EIB’s economic department. She says that the digital divide between European countries is growing and causing a dilemma. Some of the EU’s businesses are at risk of being left behind, especially in areas where digital infrastructure is lacking.

To address this and accelerate the pace of digitisation in the EU, Europe needs to focus on three elements. The first is an ecosystem that facilitates digitalization. The second is a common vision to counterbalance the imbalances around the EU. And finally, an adequate policy support to address skills and financial gaps.

Investment in digitization by European country

The EIB report clearly shows how digital businesses performed the best during the hardest times of the pandemic. In addition, and most importantly, the report shows that nearly 50% of EU companies invested in digitalization in response to Covid-19.

The map reflects a difference in investments between different parts of Europe. For example, there is a strong commitment to digitalization in Central Europe and the Scandinavian countries. The former regions of the Soviet periphery, such as Bulgaria and Estonia, have made investments, although not at the same level as the other countries. Spain, with 47%, is slightly above the average of 46%.

This progress in digitisation in EU companies has been noticeable, but falls a little short. In the comparison with the United States, the EU loses out. A total of 66% of US companies already use advanced digital technologies, while in Europe the figure is 61%. At the same time, only 18% of US companies have not made any investment in digitalization, while in the EU the figure rises to 26%.

Why did investment in digitalization increase in Europe?

The main reason for this increase was the collision with the short-term future. The global lockdown forced companies to implement teleworking and empty offices, so the only way to stay connected were technologies. Businesses could not succeed without a good digital foundation, so investment in digitisation became mandatory.

The EIB report provides some data that relate to this. For example, digitised companies were the ones that dealt best with the pandemic crisis, while less digitised companies were forced to accelerate planned changes or to create a digitisation strategy. Finally, about 80% of non-digitised companies already show a greater concern about replacing their machinery and equipment with digital elements.

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