Did you know that 30% of Europeans have never used the internet and that there are currently four times as many music downloads in the US as in the EU?

If you are reading this blog you are probably already a convert to the benefits and wonders of the internet for business and it appears the European Union are committed to improve not only internet usage but also how we access it – which is good news for those of us already using the net.

Announcing the EU’s digital agenda – around 30 pieces of legislation to be introduced over the next three years – Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes said last week; “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 (ICTs) to advance job creation, sustainability and social inclusion.”

When you look at figures such as, only 1% of Europeans have access to fibre-based high-speed networks compared to 12% Japanese and 15% South Koreans and that the EU is spending only 40% of US levels for ICT research and development, you can see how and why EU countries are lagging behind.

Plans include improving technology standards, breaking down regulatory barriers, encouraging electronic payments and simplifying digital copyright management and licensing and that’s all on top of the overhaul of telecoms law already underway, so clearly the digital age is a big focus for the Brussels bureaucrats.

Given the current economic status of some of the member countries of the European Union the plan might be a little ambitious but is probably essential if European countries are to stay in touch with countries across the Atlantic and on the Asian continent.

Having over half of European households with broadband speeds of 30Mbps by 2020 will be the headline pledge but the investment in future technology and the digital economy are likely to have a bigger impact as the world moves fully towards the digital age.