Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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EU laws that work for you. Broadband and more ...

It's a scene I'm sure you're familiar with – nuisance and traffic jams on the roads because the phone operator is digging them up. But wasn't the electricity company doing that just a few weeks ago?

For me that scenario is depressingly common. And often it's totally unnecessary. Because someone's just digging up the road to put in place infrastructure like ducts, that simply duplicate what's already in place.

New EU rules could make that a thing of the past.

How? By enabling and encouraging more cooperation between those different sectors – like telecoms, energy and transport networks. So they don’t have to embark on those expensive and disruptive projects unless they need to.

But this is not just about minimising hassle and traffic jams: really it's about ensuring better broadband. Today 46% of European homes still don't have coverage by fast "next generation" broadband. In rural areas just one in 8 homes have that coverage. That's really holding us back: we need to start rolling out new networks, cheaper and faster.

Often cost stands in the way of rolling out those networks – potential investors can't make the business case work. And indeed often it's the costs of civil works that are the most significant or prohibitive: particularly for more remote areas. Streamline the need for those works, and streamline your permit processes, and you're well on the way to ensuring more broadband for more Europeans.

What's more: we need buildings fit for the future. Would anybody these days build a home without electricity or running water? Then why do we keep building homes with last century's technology? New buildings and renovated ones must be future-proof, ready to host any technology that innovators may come up with.

That's what our new legislation would do. Now agreed, and formally adopted by the Parliament today, EU countries have until July 2016 to put these new laws into effect. I hope you start seeing new connectivity in your part of Europe sooner rather than later.

Indeed it's been a busy few weeks for digital EU legislation.

Just under two weeks ago, the European Parliament voted for an end to mobile roaming charges, plus to bring down many other barriers and irritations within our connected continent. From casual travellers to heavy-duty business users, I know that's something many millions of Europeans will be thankful for.

And also on 3 April, the EU formally agreed new rules on electronic Identification and trust services – like eSignatures or registered emails. If you've ever been an Erasmus student trying to register for a university abroad, a tourist trying to get a prescription while on holiday, a business trying to seal a deal or bid for a government contract online,– you'll know how frustrating and stressful it can be to sort out admin online across borders. These new measures give you a new, easier avenue to do that – for online services that offer convenience and confidence. What's more – these eID and trust services are increasingly used around the world, by public and private users. Europe is leading here, with several world-class providers of hardware, software and services; and often we're at the forefront of eGovernment too. This new legislation puts us ahead of the game compared to competitors like the US. It's a big step forward for secure transactions in a digital single market.

Taken together, all these are simple steps showing how we can bring down borders within Europe, and beyond. Showing how European action can make life easier for everybody on our connected continent.

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