Europe’s internet economy alone is growing faster than China’s national economy, but the success will only be maintained if member countries invest in high-speed broadband networks, digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes says.
The European Commission (EC) predicts the web could contribute 5% of the region’s total gross domestic product (GDP) in a few years, and that online retail spending is on track to account for €1 in every €10 spent by 2016. However, that growth will only be achieved by investing in broadband networks and connecting consumers in remote areas, Kroes told the COSAC Conference of national parliaments in Copenhagen yesterday.
“We cannot meet this exponential demand with ageing infrastructures. They won’t take us far in the new digital world,” Kroes said, noting that “innovative financing” packages are required to boost private investment. The commissioner also called for Europe to restore its position as the leader of wireless communication by backing mobile broadband networks.
Kroes didn’t focus solely on infrastructure, though, calling for more IT training programs to prevent a shortfall in qualified support staff, and cut the number of Europeans that have never used the internet. And she restated a commitment to creating a clear legal framework for the web economy, covering online transactions, copyright, and access to public sector data.
“[W]e can’t get those benefits without the right support. High-speed networks to provide bandwidth. A skilled, digitally literate workforce. And the legal framework to open up a vibrant digital Single Market,” Kroes said.