Member States should use fully the Structural and Rural Development Funds that are already earmarked for investment in ICT infrastructures and services.
What is the problem? Available funds are not being used
Member States can use several EU funds to support the roll-out of high speed networks.
However, recent figures suggest that funds earmarked for this purpose are not being absorbed quickly enough, particularly inPoland, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Latvia. This is mainly due to poor coordination between relevant authorities and lack of experience in regulatory, technological and state aid fields.
Why is EU action required? Maintain funding for broadband roll-out
National authorities will need to act rapidly to avoid seeing the funds re-assigned to more traditional priorities.
Given the Commission's objective to achieve 100% coverage by 2013, substantial investments will be required to build new networks, especially in rural and remote areas. Funding levels must therefore be maintained in order to achieve this target and boost investments in broadband infrastructure.
What are the Commission's plans?
Throughout 2011, the European Commission will consider the need for further policy and regulatory proposals to ensure that the barriers to the deployment of high speed broadband infrastructure are tackled in an effective manner across the EU. This assessment will also take into account ongoing discussions on the next financial perspectives.
Specific actions will include:
- Technical assistance to key national authorities to speed up the planning and implementation of broadband to increase the absorption rate of EU funds.
- Prompting Member States to adopt national schemes for state aid clearance within the context of their national broadband strategies.
- A proposal for a flexible regulation of EU funds enabling an extended use of financial engineering instruments under the next MAFF and particularly within the context of both structural and rural development policies.
- Proposing to earmark EU investment to co-finance national/regional actions aimed at mapping existing infrastructure and prospective investments.
- An EU guide on broadband investment models for public authorities aimed at increasing investment in broadband and at improving absorption rate of EU funds.
- Re-launching the European broadband portal, a multilingual stakeholder platform providing guidance to local and regional authorities.