Monday, February 02, 2009

EU - investment in broadband

The Commission proposes € 5 billion new investment in energy and Internet broadband infrastructure in 2009-2010, in support of the EU recovery plan

As part of the ongoing implementation of the EU recovery plan endorsed by the European Council in December 2008, the European Commission has today presented proposals to invest in key energy and Internet broadband infrastructure projects. These will deliver a much needed stimulus to the EU economy in the short term, while at the same time targeting strategic goals such as energy security. All Member States will benefit from the package of measures.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "The EU's Recovery Plan is all about 'smart investment' – a short-term stimulus targeted on long-term goals. That is exactly what the Commission has adopted today: a list of specific projects to direct € 5 billion of unspent money from the EU budget to build a stronger Europe for the long term. We need to learn the lessons of the recent gas crisis and invest heavily in energy. We also need to stimulate the European economy by providing information highways in rural communities. The Commission is committed to working together with Member States, all of whom will benefit from our proposed measures, in revitalising the EU economy through investment in these key areas."

The package presented today contains:

a short Communication outlining the background to and the objectives of the initiative;
for energy projects: a proposal for a Regulation to grant Community support to strategic energy projects. A total of € 3.5 billion is proposed for investment in carbon capture and storage (financial envelope: €1,250 million), offshore wind projects (€500 million), and gas and electricity interconnection projects (€1,750 million).
for broadband:, the Commission proposes to target € 1 bn to extend and upgrade high-speed internet in rural communities. This money will be targeted via the existing EU's Rural Development Fund to cover the "white spots" on Europe's broadband map (30% of the population in rural areas who do not have broadband access).
and tackling new challenges identified in the "health check" of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): using the existing rural development mechanisms, this would direct € 0.5 billion to launch the work of tackling the "new challenges" agreed in the health check. These new challenges are: climate change, renewable energy, water management, biodiversity and dairy restructuring.

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