The European Commission (EU) has indicated that the digital economy across European states needs to be stepped up considerably, after it said it is held back by a “patchy pan-European policy framework”. After an intensive policy review of its Digital Agenda for Europe, it has refocused its priorities for the future.
The EU estimates that the digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the European economy, and has been calling for a revamp of high-speed broadband for a while. It outlined the steps it plans to take to help the roll-out:
The commission will present a comprehensive package to tackle market incentives to invest, provide targeted funding and reduce roll-out costs.
The commission is also working on freeing up more spectrums to implement the commitment in the Radio Spectrum Policy programme and will propose an action plan on wireless communications in 2013.
It also plans to finalise a new broadband regulatory environment. Some of its other priorities are to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing, launch programs to fill skills shortages and create an action plan support web entrepreneurs and make Europe more “start-up friendly.”
The rollout of broadband exemplifies the differing levels of connectivity in the region. The latest statistics published by Eurostat, the EU’s stats office, state that households with broadband connectivity have grown exceptionally. Some 72% of households in the EU now have broadband connections, up from 30% in 2006. But even so the level of access across EU states is not always similar with some considerable differences between them. As The Next Web points out, internet access across Greece, Romania and Bulgaria is far below the average of most of the other EU countries at just over 50%, while over 90% of households in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden have broadband connections.
This projects exponential potential growth for EU countries, and therefore the proposed new priorities for the Agenda is seen as an important step for the EU, creating more jobs across the board. Its proposed plan aims to increase the European GDP by 5% over the next eight years and create some 3.8-million new jobs in the long term.