This article presents recent statistical data on many different aspects of the information society in the European Union (EU). Progress in the development of the information society is regarded as critical to improve the competitiveness of EU industry and, more generally, to meet the demands of society and the EU economy.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) affect people’s everyday lives in many ways, both at work and in the home, for example when communicating or buying online. EU policies range from regulating entire areas such as e-commerce to trying to protect an individual’s privacy.
Main statistical findings
Households and individuals
During the last decade, ICT have become widely available to the general public, both in terms of accessibility as well as cost. A boundary was crossed in 2007, when a majority (55 %) of households in the EU-27 had internet access. This proportion continued to increase and in 2011 reached 73 %, rising by an additional 3 percentage points compared with 2010. Widespread and affordable broadband access is one of the means of promoting a knowledge-based and informed society. In all Member States broadband was by far the most common form of internet access, used by 67 % of all EU-27 households in 2011, more than double the share in 2006 - see Figure 1.
The highest proportion (94 %) of households with internet access in 2011 was recorded in the Netherlands (see Figure 2), while Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark also reported that at least nine out of every ten households had internet access in 2011. The lowest rate of internet access among the EU Member States was recorded in Bulgaria (45 %). However, there was a rapid expansion in household access to the internet in Bulgaria, as the proportion of households with access rose by 12 percentage points between 2010 and 2011. Romania was the only other Member State where fewer than half of all households had internet access.