Denmark, Sweden and Finland are the EU’s best-performing countries in digitization, according to the European Commission’s 2018 digital index. As a non-EU member Norway is not included in the ranking, but is at the same high level as its neighbouring Nordic countries.
The Nordic countries are well connected, with almost all their inhabitants online, and they make good use of a variety of services.
This is shown in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which measures the EU countries on digital infrastructure, digital skills, use of Internet services, the extent to which the business community uses digital technology, and the use of public digital services.
Taking the top three (and fifth) positions
Denmark, Sweden and Finland rank a respective first, second and third in the index. Looking at the different dimensions, Denmark is best in the EU in the population’s Internet use and the integration of digital technologies, while Finland ranks first in human capital and the level of digital public services in the community.
DESI Index: The Nordic countries’ rankings among the EU28
Source: DESI Index 2018 (European Commission)
Norway scores equally high as its Nordic neighbours, and would have ranked fifth in the overall index and first in Internet use, if included in the ranking. (Norway is monitored by the DESI indicators, but the ranking includes EU member states only.) 
High Nordic scores on all five dimensions
The DESI index depicts each country’s development towards a digital economy and society based on five dimensions. The Nordic countries generally score high on all dimensions, but with some differences in strengths and weaknesses.
The Nordic countries’ scores by the total DESI index and its five dimensions
The connectivity dimension measures the deployment of broadband infrastructure and its quality. The Nordic countries are well connected, even though they do not take the top positions. Despite being the EU leader in mobile broadband take-up, Finland has its lowest ranking (9th place) due to a relatively low rate of fixed broadband take-up.
A future challenge for the Nordics is to improve network coverage in rural and sparsely populated areas.
The digital skills dimension (also called human capital) measures the skills needed to take advantage of the possibilities offered by the digital, with Finland ranking first. Among the indicators are share of Internet users (in which almost all Nordic people are online) and share of ICT specialist (in which Finland has EU’s highest share, followed by Sweden in second place).
The Internet use dimension accounts for a variety of online activities. The EU’s most active Internet users are found in Denmark and Sweden. If included in the ranking, Norway would have taken the first position.
People in the Nordics use the Internet to “listen to music, watch videos and play games” as well as watch video on demand, read news online and use social networks, to a higher degree than most other Europeans. The most avid users are found in Norway, while Finland lags behind its Nordic neighbours in social networking and video on demand.
As for the integration of digital technology by businesses dimension, Denmark takes the lead. This dimension includes indicators such as cloud computing, which is most widespread in Finland (top position). The share of SMEs selling online and e-commerce turnover are other indicators for which the Nordics rank high.
The implementation and uptake of digital public services is high in all Nordic countries. Finland ranks first, and Norway scores almost on par with Finland. All the Nordics score well on indicators such as eGovernment and eHealth services. Finland and Norway also do well on open data, while Sweden and Denmark lag behind.
Read more: DESI Index 2018
Explore more: Digital scorebord - DESI visualizations
 For Iceland, also not an EU member, the latest DESI country report is from 2015.
 ICT stands for Information and Communications Technology.
More about the index: The annual DESI aims to measure the progress of EU member states towards a digital economy and society. The index combines more than 30 indicators and uses a weighting system to rank each country based on its digital performance. Detailed results for the indicators are included in the different areas presented in the profiles for each country. For more information about the methodology, see the DESI 2018 Fact Sheet - Questions and Answers.