The internet, mobile technologies and data flows between countries have had a positive impact on both the European economy and consumer welfare.
Not only have the internet and data flows benefitted technology-related industries in the EU, but they have also played a vital and growing role in industries such as tourism. Travelers report that online resources are among the primary sources of travel information, surpassing the importance of newspapers, television, guidebooks and tourism offices. In spite of this, a relatively low proportion of enterprises in Spain, Italy and Greece are moving their business online to access these customers. While online content supports, on average, 49% percent of all tourist arrivals in the EU, this figure is at a much lower 10%, 26% and 43% in Greece, Italy and Spain, respectively (Oxford Economics 2013).
The low proportion of tourism-related businesses moving online in Greece is consistent with other industries in the Greek economy, where Greece falls below the EU average with regard to broadband penetration, internet usage and adoption of e-Commerce transactions (Oxford Economics 2013).
In contrast, more developed countries such as Germany and the UK have significantly lower degrees of "e-friction" (factors that hamper internet access and therefore inhibit digitally-driven economic growth), and as a result the digital economy represents a higher share of the overall economy relative to countries like Italy and Greece (Boston Consulting Group 2014).
The mobile internet also continues to revolutionize the European economy, intensifying competition in operating systems and technology as it does. In 2013, in the EU5 (Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain), the mobile economy generated about €90 billion ($120 billion) in revenue and was responsible for an estimated half a million jobs. Competition among operating systems and their apps ecosystems has led to the growing innovation and development of smart-devices and a surge in device sales, providing consumers and businesses alike with more options, affordable devices and new products (Boston Consulting Group 2014).
In Europe, online activities are also an important aspect of leisure time and consumer surplus. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, 75% of time spent online in 2014 in Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain is on leisure activities. This contributes, according to one measure, between 23% and 40% of average hourly earnings (IPTS 2014).