A report on digital competitiveness released on Tuesday by the European Commission (EC) asserts that the European Union (EU) now ranks as “the world leader in broadband Internet,” owing to substantial gains in uptake over the past five years that now give the EU a three-point lead over the U.S. in fixed-line broadband connections. Statistics supplied by the EC show that, since 2004, the number of EU homes connected to the Internet has surged from 41% to 60%, with 80% of those households now boasting high-speed connections. Half of EU households and a whopping 80% of EU businesses now have a broadband connection, thus earning Europe the world’s highest ranking in terms of broadband uptake. Among EU member states, Denmark boasts the highest percentage of high-speed connections in the world with 37% of homes and businesses equipped with high-speed Internet access. (The U.S., meanwhile, ranks 17th globally in terms of high-speed access.) While 43% of Europeans claim to use the Internet every day, teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 are, by far, the region’s most active Internet users, with 66% of EU residents in that age group reporting that they surf the web on a daily basis. According to the EC report, these young “digital natives” hold great promise for the growth of Europe’s digital economy in years to come as they begin their professional careers. Praising the strides outlined in the report, EC Media and Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding observed that “Europe’s digital economy has tremendous potential to generate huge revenues across all sectors, but to turn this advantage into sustainable growth and new jobs, governments must show leadership by adopting coordinated policies that dismantle existing barriers to new services.”