Sunday, April 20, 2008

BPN 1074 More than 40 pct of Europeans do not use internet

Nearly 40 percent of Europeans do not use the Internet at all, This ranges from 69 percent (Romania), 65 percent (Bulgaria) and 62 percent (Greece), to 13 percent (Denmark, The Netherlands). To encourage use of new online technologies, the Commission will publish a Guide to EU Users' Digital Rights and Obligations later in 2008.

More than half of Europeans are now regular Internet users, 80 percent of them have broadband connections and 60 percent of public services in the EU are fully available online. Two thirds of schools and half of doctors make use of fast Internet connections, thanks to strong broadband growth in Europe. These are the findings of a Commission report on the results achieved so far with i2010, the EU's digital-led strategy for growth and jobs. The strategy, agreed in 2005, has led to a firm commitment to promoting ICT at EU and national levels. As of 2007, all Member States consider ICT development as one of the main achievements in their structural reform programmes. In parallel, the EU institutions have encouraged the building of a single market for online services and increased research funding. A single market for telecoms, promoting cross-border communication services, is, however, still in the making.

More than 77 percent of EU businesses, 67 percent of schools and 48 percent of doctors are now benefiting from fast broadband connections. However, some parts of the EU are still lagging behind and are not fully connected. The report on Europe's ICT policy strategy "i2010 – a European Information Society for Growth and Jobs” has triggered new EU initiatives on regulation, research and public-private partnerships, is starting to deliver. The EU has the world's largest developed consumer market and 100 million broadband internet connections and is thus well placed to reap the economic benefits of ICT.

In 2007, the Internet attracted nearly 40 million new regular users in the EU (now 250 million in total). In the last five years, ICT has had a big impact on public services, especially by bringing education and health online: more than 96 percent of European schools are now connected to the Internet; two thirds of them to broadband, up from almost zero in 2001. In the health sector, 57 percent of doctors now send or receive patients' data (17 percent in 2002) and 46 percent of them receiving results from laboratories electronically (11 percent in 2002). 77 percent of EU businesses had a broadband connection in 2007 (62 percent in 2005) and 77 percent use the Internet for dealing with banks (70 percent in 2005).

The Commission report addresses the key challenges for 2008-2010, besides hooking up the last 40 million Europeans:
- Although the EU's ICT sector is highly research-intensive, with levels above the US in Sweden (18 percent), Finland (17 percent) and Denmark (11 percent), it is below 1 percent in Slovakia, Latvia and Poland. To boost research performance, EU-funded Joint Technology Initiatives on nanoelectronics and embedded systems, e-Health and risky high-tech research will become operational in 2008.
- While in some countries – Austria, Czech Republic, Malta, Portugal – 100 percent of basic public services for businesses can be fully transacted online, others lag behind (Bulgaria, 15 percent, Poland, 25 percent, Latvia, 30 percent). In May, the Commission will therefore launch large-scale projects to support pan-European public services like the cross-border operation of electronic identity or electronic signatures.

In the EU, ICT use accounts for 26 percent of research efforts, 20 percent of business investment and almost 50 percent of all productivity growth. Today's Commission report highlights progress made in the EU and in each Member State and makes proposals to further promote competitiveness and ICT take-up. The Commission's recent progress report on the Single Telecoms Market found that 8 EU countries were ahead of the US in broadband deployment, while 2007 was the fifth consecutive year of increased investments in the EU's telecoms sector, exceeding € 50 billion.

Blog Posting Number: 1074


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