[inside ireland] The European Commission has set a target of 2020 for all EU citizens to have internet speeds of 30Mbps or higher.
The Commission also hopes that 50% of people in the EU will have access to connections of 100Mbps or higher.
At present only 1% of Europeans have an internet connection of 100Mbps, compared to 12% in Japan and 15% in South Korea.
Some 30% of Europeans have never used the internet, even as commerce and services increasingly move online while the US invests twice as much as Europe in ICT research.
The commission has unveiled a five-year agenda for the telecommunications industry, promising ambitious efforts to unlock Europe's digital potential. The digital agenda is part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU's plan for spurring higher growth over the next decade.
Of the seacht big initiatives highlighted in the strategy, the digital agenda is the first to be launched - a sign of the importance attached to it.
The plan advocates greater use of IT in all sectors of society. Seven goals are identified, starting with the removal of barriers to doing business across national borders. Such obstacles help explain why there are currently four times as many music downloads in the US as in the EU according to the Commission.
To open up access to legal online content, the commission plans to simplify copyright clearance and cross-border licensing. It also wants to make electronic payments and invoicing easier.
The commission will seek tougher rules to protect personal data. In the future, website operators may be required to inform users about security breaches affecting their data.
The plan also calls for more creative use of IT solutions for issues like climate change and population ageing. Energy-efficient lighting and telemedicine are cited as examples. The development of electronic keys for accessing medical records is foreseen.
EU targets 30Mbps for all by 2020