The European Commission has published its annual scoreboard on the progress of the implementation of the Digital Agenda in the European Union.
The Digital Agenda proposes 101 specific policy actions across 7 domains, among them them the digital single market, fast and ultra-fast internet access and digital literacy. Of the 101 actions of the Digital Agenda, 34 are complete. 52 are on track and 15 are delayed or at risk of delay.
The policy actions are set to promote competition and investment in Europe’s digital technology markets. The 2012 Digital Agenda scoreboard shows the progress of these actions between June 2011 and May 2012, assessing their overall impact on the basis of 13 key performance targets. Among these targets are that the entire EU be covered in broadband by 2013, that 50% of the population be online by 2015, that 20 % of the population buy online cross-border by 2015, and that the difference between roaming and national tariffs approach zero by 2015.
Move to mobile technologies
The 2012 scoreboard shows that internet usage in Europe is rapidly rising: 15 million Europeans went online for the first time in 2011, with 68% of Europeans online regularly, while 95% of Europeans now have access to a fixed broadband connection.
A clear move towards mobile internet can be observed, with mobile internet take-up growing by 62% and now standing at 217 million mobile broadband subscriptions. In all, greater data consumption and a shift to mobile technologies (such as smartphones) and mobile services (such as 3G internet, music streaming and webmail) are the most significant trends in the ICT sector.
Areas of concern: ICT skills, online shopping and roaming tariffs
Nevertheless, several areas of concern in the implementation of the Digital Agenda targets remain.
The scoreboard shows that half of European labour force does not have sufficient ICT skills and is not confident their computer and internet skills are sufficient in this labour market. Almost 25% of Europeans have no ICT skills, while only 43% of Europeans have medium or high Internet skills and can, for example, use the Internet to make a phone call.
Online shopping remains a national activity. Only one in ten Europeans has purchased from a website based in another EU member state, citing language barriers and red tape (such as refusal to deliver and copyright complications) as the biggest obstacles.
Also problematic are mobile roaming prices. Consumers still pay an average of three and a half times as much for roaming calls as for national calls. To remedy this, a new Roaming Regulation to extend price caps to data and introduce new competition will come into force in July 2012.