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Parliamentary questions
9 August 2018
E-003071/2018
Answer given by Ms Gabriel on behalf of the European Commission

Ireland's connectivity dimension performance in the Connectivity dimension improved(1), but fast and ultrafast broadband coverage of rural and less densely populated areas is significantly lower than that in urban.

The European Electronic Communications Code(2),(3) contains provisions to boost investment in very high capacity networks, including in remote and rural areas(4).

The European Structural and Investment Funds support broadband roll-out in Ireland with more than EUR 75 million in this programming period under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The European Investment Bank also supports investment with up to EUR 500 million, of which EUR 200 million come from the European Fund for Strategic Investment.

Addressing the rural connectivity gap in Member States is a Commission priority. To this end, the Commission developed a Rural Action Plan(5). The Plan aims to provide support for better use of available European and national resources to bridge the rural/urban broadband divide.

The Broadband Competence Offices Network, part of the Plan, connects national and regional authorities and provides legal, technical and financial guidance to project promoters and policy-makers, supporting thus national/local stakeholders to accelerate broadband roll-out especially in rural areas.

The proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework provides, in addition to ERDF and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, other funding opportunities, such as the new Connecting Europe Facility with EUR 3 billion in grants for different investments in very high capacity networks in areas of milder market failure; while InvestEU will accelerate investment in commercially viable projects.

(1)Ireland ranks 11th in the connectivity dimension according to the EU DESI 2018 and holds the 6th place overall.
(2)https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/communication-connectivity-competitive-digital-single-market-towards-european-gigabit-society
(3)When it enters into force, it will replace the Regulatory Framework
(4)The European Parliament and the Council reached in June 2018 a political agreement on the new European Electronic Communications Code ( http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4070_en.htm )
(5)https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/european-commission-joins-forces-help-bringing-more-broadband-rural-areas

Last updated: 10 August 2018Legal notice