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Parliamentary questions
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27 March 2019
P-000448/2019(ASW)
Answer given by Ms Gabriel on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-000448/2019

Building on the Digital Agenda for Europe, the Commission proposed in its 2016 Communication ‘Towards a European Gigabit Society’(1) additional connectivity objectives for 2025.

The Commission reports annually(2) on broadband coverage and take-up(3). There are still large differences between urban and rural areas. For this reason in market failure areas with no commercial deployment it is possible to envisage public support for broadband roll out.

In many Decisions the Commission has already positively assessed interventions in ‘white Next Generation Access areas’ (NGA). Moreover the number of this type of projects which did not require notification and were reported under the General Block Exemption Regulation strongly increased in 2017 speeding up their implementation(4).

Interventions in ‘grey NGA areas’ always require notification because of the potential impact on existing investment and are assessed on a case by case basis to ensure i.a. that the supported networks offer a connectivity far above the one currently available or planned and do not duplicate infrastructures meeting the strategic needs identified by the Commission. In 2018 the Commission adopted for the first time a decision concerning this type of intervention(5). As more projects involving the roll out of very high capacity networks contributing to achieve the proposed 2025 objectives are planned across the EU, additional decisions providing further guidance can be expected. The Commission Broadband State Aid Guidelines(6) also describe the criteria under which a public intervention in a black NGA area could exceptionally be allowed but no case of this type has been assessed so far. The Commission is currently reviewing its Guide on Broadband investment and State Aid to provide additional guidance.

(1)https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/communication-connectivity-competitive-digital-single-market-towards-european-gigabit-society
(2)Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/desi
(3)By mid 2017 all EU households had access to basic broadband, 80% to a 30 Mbps download connectivity and 57% to at least a 100 Mbps download. In late Spring, the 2019 DESI will update these figures.
(4)http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/scoreboard/index_en.html
(5)Decision of 18 December 2018 in Case SA.48418 Bayerisches Gigabit Pilot project: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/cases/277018/277018_2038360_109_2.pdf , and its press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-6868_en.htm )
(6)Section 3.6 of the communication from the Commission on EU Guidelines for the application of state aid rules in relation to the rapid deployment of broadband networks (OJ C 25, 26.1.2013).

Last updated: 3 April 2019Legal notice