Friday

6th Dec 2019

Europe's old and unemployed shun the internet

Almost half of Europeans use the internet every day but one third - mainly the elderly, the unemployed or people in rural areas - have never used the web, according to a new European Commission report.

The study, published on Tuesday (4 August), showed that new technologies are spreading fast across the old continent but deep divisions remain.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Brussels says "digital natives" hold a great potential for Europe's economy (Photo: printing.com)

Forty three percent of EU citizens currently use the web every day. While seventy five percent use it regularly (at least once a week) compared to 43 percent in 2005.

The biggest increases in regular internet use were seen in Ireland, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania. Italy, Cyprus, Romania and Portugal lagged far behind in a what the report called a "source of concern."

With 114 million subscribers, the EU is the largest world market for fixed broadband access. Half of European households and more than 80 percent of European businesses have a fixed broadband connection.

Experts said that the high penetration levels have been achieved due to pro-competition regulation of the sector, which has led to lower prices.

But while broadband is technically available to 90 percent of EU households only 50 percent use it in practice, with mainly low-income families opting out.

Low usage rates are also seen among the 65 to 74 age group, economically inactive people and people with low levels of education.

Such social disparities are strongly present in Romania, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Lithuania, Slovenia and Italy. The greatest digital equality is seen in Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Luxemburg.

The commission's report also highlighted the rise of "digital natives" - people aged 16 to 24 - as the most active and creative internet users. Seventy three percent of this group regularly uses advanced services to create and share online content.

The new generation has "tremendous potential to generate huge revenues across all sectors," EU information society commissioner Viviane Reding said.

"But to turn this advantage into sustainable growth and new jobs, governments must show leadership by adopting co-ordinated policies that dismantle existing barriers to new services."

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Interview

EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration

Europe's obsession with migration from Africa means it risks losing out the continent's potential when it comes to trade, says the EU's ambassador to the African Union, Ranier Sabatucci. "Africa is a growing continent, it is the future," he says.

EU agrees 2020 budget deal

EU governments and the parliament agreed in marathon talks ino next year's budget - which will boost spending on climate, border protection, and the European satellite system. It will also be a benchmark if there is no long-term budget deal.

EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Manchego cheese, Panjin rice and Polish vodka will all be protected under a new EU-China agreeement. But the two trading giants continue to struggle over other trade-related deals.

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  2. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  3. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  4. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  5. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  6. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate
  7. Development to fuel change
  8. Does EU have role in stopping backsliding in Georgia?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us