Commission calls for faster broadband more ICT R&D

Every European household should have a 30Mbit/s or faster broadband connection by 2020, according to the European Commission.

The Digital Agenda for Europe also says that half of European households should have 100Mbit/s connections by the same date.

The fast broadband goal is one of seven priorities designed to help Europe's growth and bring the benefits of an information society to all. The Commission estimates that half of Europe's productivity growth over the past 15 years has been driven by information and communications technologies.

"We must put the interests of Europe's citizens and businesses at the forefront of the digital revolution and so maximise the potential of information and communications technologies to advance job creation, sustainability and social inclusion," said Neelie Kroes, Commission vice-president for the Digital Agenda.

"To fully realise the potential of Europe's digital future we need the full commitment of Member States, the ICT sector and other vital economic players."

The other six goals are:

- increasing investment in ICT research and innovation, in part by using regional funding to get the most out of private investment in ICT R&D. The Commission is also keen to increase EU investment in ICT research, which at €37bn is less than half US levels of €88bn.

- making sure everyone has the skills and online services they need to thrive in a knowledge society

- investing in technology to cut energy use, support ageing citizens, empower patients and improve online access for people with disabilities. One aim would be that by 2015 patients could have access to their online medical records wherever they were in the EU. The Agenda will also boost energy saving ICT technologies such as solid-state lighting.

- the creation of a borderless market for commercial services and cultural entertainment. The Commission argues that barriers still hamper access to pan-European telecoms services, digital services and content.

- improving ICT standard-setting and interoperability, to enable ICT innovation.

- enhancing trust and security, through a better-coordinated response to cyber-attacks and stronger rules on personal data protection.

The Commission plans 100 follow-up actions to make the Digital Agenda happen, 31 of them legislative.

The Digital Agenda is the first of seven flagship initiatives under the Commission's Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

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