The European Commission has today presented progress reports on digitalisation making recommendations for each EU country. For Bulgaria, the Commission recommends accelerating the deployment of 5G mobile networks, improving the digitalisation of public services and businesses, and increasing education in new technologies.
Bulgaria has the opportunity to improve its performance in the digital transition. The uneven distribution of digital infrastructure in rural areas requires further attention, the report adds. Deployment of digital public services is still low and targeted measures are needed, including limiting the administrative burden on companies as much as possible.
Only about 1/3 of Bulgarians aged between 16 and 74 have at least basic digital knowledge and skills, and only eight per cent have more in-depth skills in this area.
Bulgaria has a low share of IT specialists (3.8% compared to an EU average of 4.6%), but marks the highest share of women in this area (28.9% compared to an EU average of 18.9%). The share of graduates in informatics in Bulgaria is 4.9%, compared to an EU average of 4.2%, according to the data. The Commission recommends that our country significantly increase efforts in the field of digital skills and increase opportunities for retraining.
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Bulgaria has made very good progress in the area of fixed broadband connectivity, the Commission notes and acknowledges that access to optical internet in Bulgaria is higher than the EU average. It added that the spread of 5G is advancing and reaching 67 percent, but more efforts are needed.
The digitalisation of business in Bulgaria lags far behind other EU countries and there is a need for further action in this direction, the Commission recommends. The share of Bulgarian companies with cloud services is one of the lowest in the EU, according to the estimate. It is added that our country performs below the EU average in most of the goals in the field of digitalization of public services. It is reported that e-government services are used less frequently in Bulgaria than in other EU countries. It is noted that access to electronic health records in Bulgaria is higher (77 per cent) than the average level (72 per cent). A recommendation is made to explain to citizens the possibilities of using e-government.
The Commission notes that our country has EUR 6.27 billion under the Pandemic Recovery Plan, with nearly a quarter of these funds (EUR 1.6 billion) for digitisation.