The necessity and impact of further implementing broadband internet access in the European regions was the focus of a workshop hosted in Brussels today by the Assembly of European Regions (AER), in partnership with EURISY, at the Croatian regions’ House of Interregional Cooperation.
Together with European Commission officials, the workshop gathered representatives from the ICT industry, SMEs, associations and regional representations in Brussels.
Broadband access has now been identified as a major priority for the European Union through the one billion euro investment planned under the European Economic Recovery Plan and agreed upon yesterday by a European Parliamentary vote. Today, EC officials presented this broadband strategy, together with guidelines on how local and regional authorities can use funds such as the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to invest in bridging the gaps in broadband coverage.
The workshop also featured non-technical, good-practice examples from local and regional authorities who have successfully implemented broadband access in their regions to bring about concrete improvements in local economic attractiveness, territorial cohesion, social development and quality of life for their inhabitants.
Klaus Klipp, AER Secretary General
“Broadband access is of major importance for the regions, and not only for rural regions, but to all the diverse regions AER represents. It connects them to the world, emphasising their strengths and competitive advantages in order to secure sustainable development.”
Linda Mauperon, representing Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Ms Viviane Reding
“Broadband access is the basic infrastructure which can ensure a connected economy and society, bringing about not only economic growth and innovation, but also more democracy within the regions, enhancing political participation and openness.”
Colin Hicks, Eurisy President
"Regions need to learn more about the economic benefits of high speed broadband, the technical solutions and the availability of finance. And this was the purpose of this workshop. It is important that we do not overlook satellite delivery because it can quickly "fill the gaps" - for example by bringing fast broadband to remote and rural users who could not otherwise be reached in a cost-effective way. Considering the essential socio-economic benefits broadband access brings to regions, we have to be able to overcome cost barriers."
Damir Plese, Head of Croatian regions' representation office in Brussels
“The Croatian regions are strongly supporting the development of high-speed internet as well as giving citizens the opportunity to access it. Access to high-speed internet gives rural and peripheral regions the opportunity to be up-to-date and more competitive.”
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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