Europe failing to reach digital agenda targets, admits Commission
By Benjamin Fox
The EU is set to miss targets for its digital agenda programme, according to a report released this week by the European Commission.
Earlier this week (18 June) the commission published its second annual Digital Agenda Scoreboard.
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The main targets at risk include plans for a 100 percent increase in research and development spending on digital technology to €11 billion by 2020, broadband coverage cross the whole of the EU, alongside increases in general Internet use and commerce online.
According to the scoreboard, one in three households in Europe is still without internet connection, while just under a quarter of adults have never used the Internet.
However, it revealed that Internet use continues to increase, with 68 percent of Europeans regularly using the Internet, not far short of the commission's target of 75 percent by 2015. According to the study, Romania is now the only member state where a majority of people do not regularly use the web.
The EU executive stated that "in some areas there is real progress, but not swift enough to meet the ambitious Digital Agenda targets." The commission attributed the missed targets to the "negative economic climate in which the strategy is being deployed."
Meanwhile, on Friday (22 June) during the two day Digital Agenda Assembly in Brussels, digital commissioner Neelie Kroes admitted that there were still "too many barriers" impeding the digital economy. "Decision makers are still hesitant to invest in our digital future," she added.
Commissioner Kroes, who pledged to launch a mid-term review of the programme in the autumn, told delegates that the gathering was “a great time to take stock” of progress made. She insisted that “the current strategy is a good one. I’m not going to change a winning formula.”
The EU's Digital Agenda was launched in 2010 as part of the flagship EU 2020 growth strategy, with the primary aims being to apply single market rules to the digital market, create a single payments area and increase use of the Internet.
The commission paper said that it had completed 34 digital agenda projects, but with 15 actions currently behind schedule, including the long-awaited directive on collective rights management.
The new legislation, which is expected to focus on the music download business, had been pencilled in for publication by the commission in 2011. Amid internal divisions in the commission, it is now unlikely to be published before the autumn.