Urenio Watch Watch: Knowledge Economy

Big differences in Web use among EU members

A European Union report released Thursday showed big differences in the level of Internet use among EU nations, with Benelux and Nordic countries leading the way and eastern and southeastern Europe generally lagging behind. In the Netherlands, 78 percent of households are connected to the Net, compared to just 16 percent in Lithuania.

In the EU25, 48% of households had access to the internet during the first quarter of 2005, and 23% had a broadband connection. At the beginning of 2005, 91% of enterprises had access to the internet, and 63% of enterprises had a broadband connection.

This information comes from a report released by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. This report presents the results of surveys of internet access and broadband connections for households and enterprises, and internet usage by individuals, in the EU25 Member States, Norway and Iceland. It also covers e-commerce.

The main points revealed by the are summarised as follows:

  • The percentage of households with internet access continued to grow in 2005 and an increase in broadband connections was noted, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and households.
  • Iceland and the Netherlands have the highest internet access rates for households, with Finland the highest rate for enterprises.
  • Household broadband connections are most widespread in Belgium and Estonia.
  • n the new Member States, the proportion of individuals who have never used the internet is greater than that of regular users, with the exception of Slovakia and Estonia
  • 36% of enterprises use the internet to order goods and services.
  • Almost 90% of enterprises use their own website to market their products.
  • Books and travel are the most common purchases made online by private individuals.

In the first quarter of 2005, the highest proportions of households with internet access were recorded in the Netherlands (78%), Luxembourg (77%), Denmark (75%) and Sweden (73%). The lowest levels were registered in Lithuania (16%), the Czech Republic (19%), Greece and Hungary (both 22%) and Slovakia (23%).

At the beginning of 2005, the highest proportions of enterprises with internet access were recorded in Finland (98%), Denmark (97%), Slovenia and Sweden (both 96%). Only in Latvia (75%), Hungary (78%), Cyprus (85%), Lithuania (86%) and Poland (87%) were fewer than 90% of enterprises connected to the internet.

Broadband offers a much faster connection to the internet, and offers the potential of changing the way the internet is used. The proportion of households with a broadband connection in 2005 was highest in the Netherlands (54%), Denmark (51%), Belgium (41%) and Sweden (40%), and lowest in Greece (1%), Cyprus (4%), the Czech Republic (5%) and Slovakia (7%). Amongst enterprises the highest levels of broadband connections were recorded in Sweden (83%), Denmark (82%), Finland (81%) and Belgium (78%), and the lowest in Cyprus (40%), Poland (43%) and Greece (44%).

In the first quarter of 2005, 43% of individuals1 in the EU25 used the internet regularly, i.e. at least once a week, whether at home or at any other location. The highest levels of regular use were recorded in Sweden (76%), the Netherlands (74%) and Denmark (73%), and the lowest in Greece (18%), the Czech Republic and Cyprus (both 26%).