A gaping geographical digital divide is emerging in the E.U., with countries in the south such as Greece, Bulgaria and Romania being left behind by more technology-savvy northern countries like Holland and Sweden, according to research published Tuesday.
While 77 percent of Dutch homes have broadband access, two thirds of Greek households don't even have basic access to the Internet, said the E.U.'s statistics agency, Eurostat.
Average broadband penetration across the 27-country block rose to 56 percent from 49 percent in the first quarter of last year.
The survey also found that half of all E.U. citizens aged 16-74, and almost three quarters of 16- to 24-year-olds, log onto the Internet every day or almost every day.
The highest number of young people logging on daily or almost daily were found in the Netherlands (90 percent), Denmark and Estonia (both 88 percent), and Finland and Sweden (both 87 percent).
Meanwhile, only 41 percent of Romanian teenagers and young adults under 25 used the Internet on a daily basis. Greece and Ireland weren't far behind, with 57 percent and 58 percent respectively, Eurostat said.
Just over a third of E.U. citizens aged 16-74 bought or ordered goods or services online in the past 12 months, Eurostat said. This share varied enormously, with countries in the south again lagging far behind their northern neighbors: 2 percent in Romania and 5 percent in Bulgaria, compared with 66 percent in the U.K., 64 percent in Denmark and 63 percent in the Netherlands and Sweden.
Across the E.U., 40 percent of men ordered or purchased goods or services over the Internet, compared with 34 percent of women, Eurostat said.