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Wednesday, 6 May 2009 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) - Economic Recovery Programme: energy projects - Amendment of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 (debate)

  Maria Petre (PPE-DE).(RO) I would first of all like to congratulate Mrs Stavreva for the quality of the report which she presented to us today.

I support the amendments proposed by the rapporteur, such as making available EUR 250 million for activities related to tackling the new challenges, even though, as the Commissioner herself said, we will need to revisit this. Given the need for a rapid response to the current economic crisis, it would be helpful, as we are all well aware, for payments to be provided which can be made already during the 2009 budget year. This approach actually reflects the conclusions reached by the Presidency of the European Council on 12 December 2008.

One significant aspect of the current economic crisis is the reduction in the general resources available and in loans, along with stricter conditions being imposed for obtaining credit from banks. As a result, I support the rapporteur’s suggestion for Member States to have the opportunity to use funds made available through loans and credit guarantees, which would allow the relevant parties in rural areas to make investments during these difficult times.

Given how widely dispersed the population is and the high costs in some rural communities, not all citizens would have personal access to the broadband infrastructure. In my opinion, therefore, in addition to the infrastructure operations being proposed, Member States should have the opportunity to support public Internet access points in rural communities, such as those in public libraries and town halls.

Consequently, I agree on specific information being made available to the general public and the local authorities responsible for implementing these new measures. In order to ensure the most effective use of the resources available and to give a considerable boost to the development of broadband Internet access in rural areas, I think that the current differences between Member States in terms of broadband coverage should be used as a guide for making differentiations when allocating these funds.

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