Digitalisation in Europe 2020-2021:
Evidence from the EIB Investment Survey
About the European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank is the world’s biggest multilateral lender. The only bank owned by and representing the interests of the EU countries, the EIB finances Europe’s economic growth. Over six decades the Bank has backed start-ups like Skype and massive schemes like the Øresund Bridge linking Sweden and Denmark. Headquartered in Luxembourg, the EIB Group includes the European Investment Fund, a specialist financer of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Table of contents
To achieve sustainable growth, Europe must embrace the potential of digital technologies. The digital revolution has already transformed industries, production processes and ways of living and working, but many of these shifts are only just starting. Most European firms surveyed by the EIB Investment Survey (EIBIS) believe that COVID-19 will accelerate the use of digital technologies even further.
As with previous technology waves, taking an early lead can be critical for lasting competitiveness. Yet with the global innovation and technology landscape changing rapidly and with the winner-takes-all tendencies of digital technologies, Europe risks becoming entrenched in its position as a follower on digitalisation.
The adoption of digital technologies by firms in the European Union is improving, but it has not yet closed the gap with the United States. By 2020, 37% of firms in the European Union had still not adopted any advanced digital technologies, compared with 27% in the United States. There is also a risk of digital polarisation among European firms. Small businesses in particular are creating this lag between the European Union and the United States.
While some EU countries are at the global forefront of digital transformation, others risk being left behind. The downside risks to jobs and growth from both automation and the climate transition are not evenly spread. Some of the least developed regions in the European Union are most at risk.
Digitalisation is mainly an opportunity,