On Friday 18th of April, Europe’s ICT policy strategy mid-term review for 2008 was released.
Here’s some interesting remarks from the press release:
In 2007, the Internet attracted nearly 40 million new regular users in the EU (now 250 million in total). In the last five years, ICT has had a big impact on public services, especially by bringing education and health online: more than 96% of European schools are now connected to the Internet; two thirds of them to broadband, up from almost zero in 2001. In the health sector, 57% of doctors now send or receive patients’ data (17% in 2002) and 46% of them receiving results from laboratories electronically (11% in 2002). 77% of EU businesses had a broadband connection in 2007 (62% in 2005) and 77% use the Internet for dealing with banks (70% in 2005).
The Commission report addresses the key challenges for 2008-2010:
- Although the EU’s ICT sector is highly research-intensive, with levels above the US in Sweden (18%), Finland (17%) and Denmark (11%), it is below 1% in Slovakia, Latvia and Poland. To boost research performance, EU-funded Joint Technology Initiatives on nanoelectronics and embedded systems (IP/08/284, IP/08/283), e-Health (IP/08/12) and risky high-tech research (IP/07/1931) will become operational in 2008.
- Nearly 40% of Europeans do not use the Internet at all, This ranges from 69% (Romania), 65% (Bulgaria) and 62% (Greece), to 13% (Denmark, The Netherlands). To encourage use of new online technologies, the Commission will publish a Guide to EU Users’ Digital Rights and Obligations later in 2008.
- While in some countries – Austria, Czech Republic, Malta, Portugal – 100% of basic public services for businesses can be fully transacted online, others lag behind (Bulgaria, 15%, Poland, 25%, Latvia, 30%). In May, the Commission will therefore launch large-scale projects to support pan-European public services like the cross-border operation of electronic identity or electronic signatures.
Also interesting is the following chart, which shows how the countries are performing relative to the EU average on 52 information society indicators taken together. All countries have strengths and weaknesses with indicators both above and below the EU average. There are three groups of countries:
The most advanced, for which the box lies entirely above the line, such as Denmark or The Netherlands. For this group, more than 75% of their indicators are above the EU average.
The least developed countries, for which the box lies entirely below the line, such as Bulgaria or Greece. For these countries, 75% of the indicators are below the EU average.
The remainder with values distributed above and below the EU average, such as Spain or Malta.
Source: Commission services.