Territorial foresight study in addressing the digital divide and promoting digital cohesion

Contracting Party: The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) (under the Framework Contract No. CDR/TL2/59/2017/1) 

Period: 2021-2022 

URLTerritorial foresight study in addressing the digital divide and promoting digital cohesion 


This study, co-authored with Progress Consulting S.r.l., is centred around the inclusion of digital cohesion in the traditional concept of cohesion. Digital cohesion can be described as the state achieved through the closing of the digital divide and the attainment of even participation of all European citizens in the benefits of digital transformation.  

Against this backdrop, it aims to investigate the potential evolution of digital cohesion in the future with a combination of approaches used in the foresight studies:  

  • Horizon scanning for weak signals and wild cards, which are, respectively, early signs of change of unlikely events with severe impact. Horizon scanning has been done with the aim to better understand the potential convergence of the relevant future context towards digital cohesion; 
  • Megatrend analysis associated with the occurrence of weak signals, with the aim of exploring the positive implications of weak signals in reducing the digital divide in Europe; 
  • Scenarios building: four scenarios have been built in order to provide different perspectives on how digital cohesion can be achieved and to learn possible implications for the present by evaluating each scenario according to the dimensions described in the Digital Compass – digital skills, digital infrastructures, digital transformation of businesses and digital public services; 
  • Visioning, which describes a future ideal vision for digital cohesion in Europe by highlighting how megatrends can accelerate or decelerate the Digital Compass dimensions; 
  • Backcasting exercise, applied as a strategic approach to retrospectively identify the steps needed towards the desirable futures described in the visioning.  

In addition to foresight considerations, action-oriented recommendations to European institutions, Member States and local and regional authorities (LRAs) have been provided. These recommendations aim at: addressing foreseeable risks and shortfalls of the current policies and providing strategies; considering the impact of the identified wild cards and the backcasting exercise; improving the monitoring and the measuring of the progress towards digital cohesion.