EU Says Internet Can Boost Economy

    August 4, 2009

More than half (56%) of Europeans are now regular Internet users compared to one third in 2004, according to a new report from the European Commission.

Half of households and more than 80 percent of businesses now have a broadband connection.

The most active Internet users are those between the ages of 16 to 24 with 73 percent of them regularly using advanced services to create and share online content, twice the EU population average (35%).

Viviane Reding, European Commission
Viviane Reding
European Commission

The majority (66%) of all Europeans under 24 use the Internet every day, compared to the EU average of 43 percent. They also have more advanced Internet skill than the rest of the population.

"Europe’s digital economy has tremendous potential to generate huge revenues across all sectors, but to turn this advantage into sustainable growth and new jobs, governments must show leadership by adopting coordinated policies that dismantle existing barriers to new services," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

"We should seize the opportunity of a new generation of Europeans who will soon be calling the shots in the European market place. These young people are intensive Internet users and are also highly demanding consumers. To release the economic potential of these ‘digital natives’, we must make access to digital content an easy and fair game."

The report found younger Internet users were reluctant to pay to download or view content online like videos or music (33% say they are not willing to pay anything at all, which is twice the EU average).

Despite progress, a third of EU citizens have never used the Internet. Only 7 percent have shopped online in another member state.

"Pro-active policy making across the EU must ensure that everyone has a high-speed internet connection and that there is an online single market, where people can easily use online services across borders," the report concluded.