The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday announced plans to combat spam, promising "concrete action" by October.

Research commissioned by the EC shows that by the end of this summer more than half of all the emails in Europe will be spam.

"Combatting spam has become a matter for us all, and has become one of the most significant issues facing the internet today," said Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society.

The concrete action would focus on effective enforcement based on international cooperation among different countries. It would also include technical measures for countering spam, and raising consumer awareness of the issue.

The Commission's plans are designed to coincide with a new law on data protection that forbids unsolicited emailing. This directive is due to be put into the statute books of the 15 European Union member states in October.

Under the data protection law, email marketing will only be allowed with prior consent from the recipient. This "opt-in" approach does, however, permit marketing companies to target their existing customers.