• MEPs pass EU scheme to support free WIFI in public spaces
  • Safeguards for personal data

A financial scheme for local wireless access points in the EU, free of charge and without discriminatory conditions, is on its way.

The funds will be used in a “geographically balanced manner” in more than 6000 communities across member states on a “first come, first served” basis to finance free wireless connections in centres of public life, including outdoor spaces accessible to the general public (libraries, public administrations, hospitals etc.

Eligibility and conditions

In order to be eligible, public bodies should cover operating costs for at least three years and offer free, easy to access and secure connectivity to users. Also, EU funds can only be used if commercial advertising or the use of personal data for commercial purposes are excluded. Projects duplicating similar free private or public offers in the same area are excluded from this financial support.

Access should be provided in the relevant languages of the member state concerned and, if possible, in other official languages of the EU institutions.

Carlos Zorrinho (S&D, PT), rapporteur, said: “The WIFI4EU Initiative was a strong political vision that will soon become a concrete reality throughout the EU, assuring that, regardless of where they live or how much they earn, every European benefits from high quality WIFI connectivity. This will improve the European Gigabit Society, rendering it economically competitive and socially inclusive".

The resolution was approved with 582 votes to 98 against, with nine abstentions.