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More than 250 million Europeans regularly use Internet, says Commission's ICT Progress Report

European Commission - IP/08/605   18/04/2008

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IP/08/605

Brussels, 18 April 2008

[Graphic in PDF & Word format]

More than 250 million Europeans regularly use Internet, says Commission's ICT Progress Report

More than half of Europeans are now regular Internet users, 80% of them have broadband connections and 60% 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.

"It is a welcome change of political direction that today, ICT, the main driver of European growth, is being promoted by all 27 EU Member States in their national policies. This helps Europe compete internationally and modernises the daily lives of Europeans," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "It is especially good news that 77% of EU businesses, 67% of schools and 48% of doctors are now benefiting from fast broadband connections. However, some parts of the EU are still lagging behind and are not fully connected. All EU countries must therefore work harder to close the gaps, to enhance cross-border communication services as well as services that also reach rural and remote regions."

As today's report shows, Europe's ICT policy strategy "i2010 – a European Information Society for Growth and Jobs" (IP/05/643), which 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% 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% of doctors now send or receive patients' data (17% in 2002) and 46% of them receiving results from laboratories electronically (11% in 2002). 77% of EU businesses had a broadband connection in 2007 (62% in 2005) and 77% use the Internet for dealing with banks (70% in 2005).

The Commission report addresses the key challenges for 2008-2010:

  • Although the EU's ICT sector is highly research-intensive, with levels above the US in Sweden (18%), Finland (17%) and Denmark (11%), it is below 1% in Slovakia, Latvia and Poland. To boost research performance, EU-funded Joint Technology Initiatives on nanoelectronics and embedded systems (IP/08/284, IP/08/283), e-Health (IP/08/12) and risky high-tech research (IP/07/1931) will become operational in 2008.
  • Nearly 40% of Europeans do not use the Internet at all, This ranges from 69% (Romania), 65% (Bulgaria) and 62% (Greece), to 13% (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.
  • While in some countries – Austria, Czech Republic, Malta, Portugal – 100% of basic public services for businesses can be fully transacted online, others lag behind (Bulgaria, 15%, Poland, 25%, Latvia, 30%). 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.

Background:

In the EU, ICT use accounts for 26% of research efforts, 20% of business investment and almost 50% 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 (IP/08/460) 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.

For more information:
The Commission's i2010 report is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/i2010

Annex

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

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[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

GP = General practitioners.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]


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