42% of Europeans lack basic digital skills

Even in the wake of COVID-19, digital skills cannot be acquired overnight. The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI 2020), published by the Skills Unit of DG CONNECT, shows that improvements in Europe’s digital performance are very slow. The number of people with insufficient digital skills has dropped by only 1%, from 43% to 42% – almost half of the citizens of the EU. That is more than 180 million people for whom it would be very challenging – or impossible – to receive information digitally. Highly represented in these figures are older, disabled or chronically ill people and their carers, as well as those living in poverty or facing financial insecurity.

Europe is working towards improving digital skills – such as with the recently announced European Skills Agenda. This is an absolute necessary, but there is no quick fix. And developing digital skills in education settings or in the workplace automatically excludes millions of people in Europe who do not study or work. Progress in Europe’s digital performance will take decades. And even after improvements have been made, there will always be some people who do not acquire enough digital skills and others who choose not to use digital tools, opting for paper communications instead.

The right to choose

Keep Me Posted EU is a campaign that steadfastly supports the fundamental right of every citizen to choose how they want to receive important information – such as tax forms, election documents, bank statements or bills. For the 42% of people in Europe without sufficient digital skills, the right to choose how to be contacted is essential. And even many people with digital skills still prefer to receive paper communications for a variety of reasons – e.g. for better comprehension, trust, or record-keeping.

The DESI 2020 shows how important it is for citizens in Europe to have the right to choose between paper and digital communications – now and in the future. Enshrining this fundamental right will help support Europe’s digital ambitions  making sure that nobody gets left behind. All citizens should have the right to choose at all times without any disadvantage.

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