WiFi4EU: EP and Council strike a deal on EU scheme for free internet access
- New EU scheme to support free WIFI in public spaces
- It is a step towards the creation of a Digital Union
- EP negotiators introduced safeguards for personal data
A scheme for more than 5000 wireless internet connections in public areas across the EU were agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on Monday evening.
This informal deal includes:
- the creation of a single authentication system valid throughout the EU;
- funds to be deployed in a “geographically balanced manner” across member states and on a “first come, first served” basis;
- at Parliament’s insistence, public wireless access points (libraries, public administrations, hospitals) may be funded only if users are allowed to connect without any direct or indirect payment (commercial advertising or use of personal data for commercial purposes);
- public bodies should cover operating costs for at least three years and offer a free, easy to access and secure connectivity to users to be eligible, and;
- projects duplicating similar free private or public offers in the same area are excluded from this financial support.
Rapporteur Carlos Zorrinho (S&D, PT) said: “Regardless of where they live or how much they earn, every European should benefit from WIFI connectivity," adding that: "high-speed broadband access to Wi-Fi services free of charge is key to building a Digital Union that does not leave anyone behind".
“As a pilot project, WiFi4EU can lead the way for an effective connectivity for EU citizens. It is important from the outset to ensure that this project is geographically balanced between and within member states through the creation of a single authentication system valid throughout the EU and capable of promoting digital inclusion”, he stated.
The draft deal needs to be approved by the Parliament and the Council before the legislation enters into force.