Today the Commission adopted a Cohesion Policy project worth more than 573 million of EU funds to support the deployment of fast broadband in Italy.
The EU funding, covering 60% of the project’s eligible costs, will help bring fast internet access to areas where it is currently not available.More than Italian 7000 municipalities will be covered, totalling 12.5 million inhabitants and almost 1 million companies.
Corina Creţu, Commissioner for Regional Policy said: “This EU-funded broadband project, which covers 20% of the Italian population, means unprecedented business opportunities, better public services and better quality of life for the Italian people. It shows what the EU is really about: working to improve everyday life for citizens, very concretely.”
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said: “A high quality broadband infrastructure is essential in today’s economy and society. Citizens will benefit fully from the Digital Single Market once they have unrestricted access to the best performing networks, which enable the widespread access to new products, services and applications. Such projects lay the foundations for an inclusive and competitive digital Europe.”
The project is part of the “Italian Digital Plan – Ultra-broadband”, the national strategy for Next Generation Access network. It aims to ensure connection speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for 85% of Italian households and all public buildings – in particular schools and hospitals – and of at least 30 Mbps for all by 2020.
The project will in particular cover so-called “white areas”, where market forces cannot deliver the necessary infrastructure upgrade, in all 20 Italian regions. The project should be completed end of 2020.
Italy is the second largest recipient of the European Structural Investment Funds, including Cohesion Policy funds, with €44.7 billion earmarked for 2014-2020. €1.9 billion is dedicated to investments in broadband and digital services.
The country is also the second largest beneficiary of the Investment Plan for Europe – the Juncker Plan – in absolute terms, with already €63.3 billion mobilised in additional investment and over 286,000 small and medium businesses set to benefit from improved access to finance.
For the next long-term EU budget, the Commission is proposing €43.5 billion for Italy in Cohesion Policy funds, an envelope increased by €8.5 billion euros, in the context of an overall reduction of the Cohesion budget, in order to support a lasting economic recovery in the country.