Europe risks being walked over by global rivals due to a lack of fast Web access, online content and trained ICT staff, digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes warns.
The commissioner believes almost half (43%) of Europe’s labor force lacks the ICT skills to get, or change, a new job, with a quarter lacking any skills at all. She also notes that online shopping remains bound to national borders, with only one in ten consumers purchasing from a website in another EU country, and that use of e-commerce by small and medium enterprises has stalled.
Other areas of concern identified by Kroes include a shortfall in public research funding – it needs to grow by 6% per annum to hit public investment targets set for 2020 – and continued problems with ‘rip-off’ mobile roaming rates.
"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,” Kroes states, adding. “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 figures are revealed in an annual Digital Agenda scoreboard, which rates broadband access, Internet use, e-government capabilities, regulatory and research trends for every EU country.
Despite the problems identified in the 2012 report, there are some positives, namely near ubiquitous fixed broadband access (95% penetration), strong take up of mobile broadband (up 62% to 217 million), the addition of 15 million first time web users, and greater use of e-government schemes in Greece, Portugal and Ireland.