The European Commission has proposed to spend €9 billion from 2014 to 2020 on high-speed broadband deployment projects in Europe and an additional €9 billion on trans-European energy infrastructure.
The funding is part of Connecting Europe Facility, a plan which will fund €50 billion worth of investment to improve Europe’s transport, energy and digital networks. The Regulation is to be adopted by the European Parliament by the end of 2012 and will enter into force at the beginning of 2013.
Broadband access for all
The Digital Agenda for Europe sets the target for the year 2020 of broadband access for all Europeans at speeds of at least 30Mbps, with at least 50% of households subscribing to speeds above 100Mbps.
The proposed EU €9 billion investment, largely in the form of equity, debt or guarantees, follows the goals set out in the Digital Agenda. The investment is to complement private and public investment: by giving broadband infrastructure projects credibility and lowering their risk profiles, the EU investment is expected to attract financing. The European Commission estimates that this financing is to equal a total of between €50 and 100 billion of public and private investment, a substantial proportion of the estimated €270 billion needed to meet Digital Agenda targets.
Meeting the 2020 energy objectives
The Connecting Europe Facility will also help the European Union meet its Europe 2020 energy objectives, namely the realisation of an optimised, cost effective single European energy network.
The EU infrastructure for gas, electricity and oil is not suited to meet future demand, to ensure secure energy supply, or to support the increase in the share of renewable energy (with this share to be 20% of all energy consumption by 2020). The €9 billion investment in the energy sector is to ensure the upgrade of Europe’s energy infrastructure into a more integrated and powerful network.
Energy projects that are not commercially viable and are deemed by the European Commission to be of ‘Common Interest’ could receive necessary permits faster, and could be eligible for EU funding up to 50% or 80% of the cost of the project. Just like with broadband, the Commission believes that the investment will attract investment from other private and public investors and will bring Europe closer to the estimated 200 billion mark necessary to rebuild the European energy grid.