Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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."

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain

The €723bn Covid-19 recovery fund, launched three years ago, has been a success, according to a mid-term internal review — but less effective than initially predicted. And according to one NGO, the commission painted an "overly positive picture".

France's Le Maire 'goes German' with austerity budget

The French government announced €10bn in further spending cuts. However, defence spending is set to increase significantly, up to €413bn from €295bn, while €400m was cut from a fund meant for renovating schools, carpooling infrastructure, and other environmental projects.

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

Latest News

  1. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  2. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  3. MEPs slap three-month ban on foreign ads ahead of EU polls
  4. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash
  5. Memo from Munich — EU needs to reinvent democracy support
  6. For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive
  7. All of Orbán's MPs back Sweden's Nato entry
  8. India makes first objection to EU carbon levy at WTO summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us