Opinion Factsheet  

Boosting broadband connectivity in Europe

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Opinion Number: CDR 6047/2017
Rapporteur: VÕRKLAEV Mart
Commission: SEDEC
Status: Adopted
Date: 22/03/2018
 
to boost broadband investment in Europe in view of the future MFF negotiation
to avoid the digital divide and set the pace towards 5G
to help boosting the broadband connectivity in all European territories, as digital connectivity is the backbone for a smart, inclusive and competitive society
to highlight that no European region or territory must be left behind
digital connectivity is the new road infrastructure; every European citizen deserves a good and sustainable access to fast broadband
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS



- recommends rolling out comprehensive high-speed broadband as soon as possible, in order to open the way for the gigabit society, to make the most of the opportunities offered by the digital single market;

- supports efforts to promote broadband expansion by strengthening cohesion policy, inter alia to ensure it can address the most severe market failures in the rural, sparsely populated areas of the EU. This does not rule out increases in financial instruments (such as loan financing) in cooperation with the European Investment Bank and other development banks;

- supports an enhanced role for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and EFSI in funding financial instruments and blending facilities (combining grants with financial instruments) to address more moderate types of market failures, such as the lack of equity finance for smaller projects in more viable areas. Such complementary interventions would ensure a high quality broadband connectivity across all regions of the EU;

- takes the view that there are a number of major challenges that need to be addressed, such as:

o limited very high speed connectivity for fixed and mobile infrastructure throughout the EU;

o the risk of insufficient capacity to deal with rapid market and technological change, such as the rise of the Internet of Things;

o administrative burdens resulting from overregulation and lack of consistency, including in the rules on State aid;

- warmly welcomes the establishment of specialist Broadband Competence Offices and the cooperation between the European Commission's various directorates-general in pursuit of a common goal. This should also be reflected in the forthcoming EU budget;

- points out that solving the "last mile problem" is important for the development of the EU as a whole and requires flexible measures;

- considers it necessary, in the interests of competition in both the fixed and 5G markets, to separate services from networks, along the same lines as the energy sector (unbundling).