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Up to half of all households across the European Union (EU) will be hooked up to 30Mb broadband by 2020, it has been claimed.

The EU's new Digital Affairs Commissioner Neelie Kroes made the announcement as she unveiled the trade bloc's five-year plan for the digital economy.

Under the proposals, universal broadband coverage will be achieved by 2013, while half of all EU citizens will be using online public services and e-commerce sites by 2015.

Ms Kroes claimed further investment in broadband networks is needed if sufficient progress is to be made, given that a third of the EU population has still never used the internet.

She claimed that EU governments must double the broadband research and development budget to 11 billion euros (£9.4 billion) by the end of the decade.

The UK is one of 27 EU member nations, part of a bloc which now includes less economically developed nations such as Bulgaria and Romania.

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