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Digital agenda - EU auditors to examine broadband policy

Digital AgendaThe European Court of Auditors will examine wether the EU broadband policy is on-track to achieve the Europe 2020 objectives.

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The 2010 Digital Agenda for Europe envisaged bringing basic broadband to all Europeans by 2013 and ensuring fast broadband coverage for all Europeans by 2020, as well as having over 50% of households subscribe to ultra-fast broadband by 2020.

Although broadband coverage across the EU has improved since 2011 according to the Commission, the situation is very different across Member States and between urban and rural areas, both for fixed broadband coverage and subscriptions.

Studies by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank estimate that up to €270 billion will be required to achieve the 2020 broadband targets. “EU broadband infrastructure financing accounts for over €11 billion in the current programme period, complementing private operators’ investments and public funding by Member States,” said Mrs Iliana Ivanova, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the audit. “We are set to examine, among other things, whether there is a risk that the financing may not be adequate to achieve the Europe 2020 Broadband objectives.”

The auditors will examine whether the Member States have developed and implemented appropriate strategies to achieve the broadband objectives set by the Commission and how likely they are to achieve them. They will also look at the degree to which the Commission has supported and monitored the Member States in achieving the broadband objectives. They visit projects in five Member States - Ireland, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Italy. Publication of the audit is planned for Spring 2018.

Notes to Editors

Investment in broadband infrastructure and the availability of broadband access contributes positively to employment and economic growth, and promotes social inclusion. Higher download and upload speeds may be required for innovative services and applications such as smart electrical grids, real-time cloud computing services and intensive e-health services. An increase of 10% in broadband connections in a country can result in 1% increase in GDP per capita per year.

Regulatory reforms in 2002 and 2009 resulted in increasingly harmonised EU rules to address the convergence of technologies, complete the single market and protect consumer interests. But operators still face a number of challenges due to the developments in the market and in consumer demand.

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Photo credit: Foter.com