Financial News

Digital switch-off is slowing EU growth

Digital technologies could plug the UK and Europe in to sustainable economic growth but governments and industry are too slow to take advantage, claims a new report by the European Commission.

While most of Europe languishes in the economic doldrums, business, innovators and consumers are crying out for fast internet connections, online content, research and technology skills – but failure to meet the demand is undermining growth.

The EC says greater data consumption, shifts to mobile technologies, like  smartphones,  and mobile services like 3G internet, music streaming and webmail are the most significant trends in IT, which accounts for 8 million jobs and 6% of EU GDP.

The EC report reviews the spread of digital technology across Europe and points out:

  • 95% of Europeans have access to a fixed broadband connection
  • Mobile internet take-up has grown by 62% to 217 million mobile broadband subscriptions
  • 15 million Europeans connected for the first time in 2011, with now 68% of Europeans online regularly and 170 million on social networks, but one in four Europeans have still never used the internet
  • 58% of EU internet users shop online, but only one in ten has purchased from a web site  in another EU state. Language and red tape, like delivery restrictions and copyright are the biggest barriers to pan-European trade.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “Europeans are hungry for digital technologies and more digital choices, but governments and industry are not keeping up with them. This attachment to 20th century policy mindsets and business models is hurting Europe’s economy.

“It’s a terrible shame. We are shooting ourselves in the foot by under-investing. Europe will be flattened by its global competitors if we continue to be complacent.”

The report also accuses telecoms companies of ripping off consumers with mobile roaming prices that are an average three and a half times as much for roaming calls as for national calls. To counter this, the commission is drafting new laws to cap prices and increase competition.

Leave a Comment