EU commits to closing digital divide

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The European Commission has outlined its plans for the EU Digital Single Market (DSM).

One of the aims of this package is to close the digital gap between urban and rural areas and the ultimate aim is to provide fast/ultra-fast broadband on the whole of the EU territory by 2020.

Options available to Member States or regions under their 2014-2020 national or regional Rural Development Programmes are aimed at addressing these challenges.

A strong supporter of today’s initiative, EU Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan stated:

“Introducing or improving broadband coverage in rural areas is crucial for boosting growth and jobs in rural areas, enabling businesses to remain competitive, integrating rural areas into the overall economic context, and enhancing the attractiveness of rural communities. One of the aims of this initiative is to ensure that the EU funds that are already foreseen for the coming years – including an estimated 2 billion EUR from the CAP’s Rural Development Programmes – are spent efficiently and where they are most needed, to give a real EU added value.

“In this sense, I am particularly pleased to note the proposal for a “One Stop Shop”, so that mayors or other regional representatives can easily see what EU-funded opportunities are available to them.” 

For the 2014-2020 period, estimates show that roughly 21.4 billion EUR from the five EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)will be devoted to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), of which about 6.4 billion EUR will be to finance high seed broadband roll-out.

The estimated contribution from Rural Development (the EAFRD) between now and 2020 is 1.6-2.0 billion EUR. These amounts will all be co-financed by investment from other private or public sources. Existing investments will be preserved, while new ones will be attracted ensuring therefore growth, job creation and improvement at the same time of the quality of life of the rural population.