Rural actors face a race against time in their efforts to ensure that the European Union’s next long-term budget better addresses the challenges of villages and remote regions, the European Committee of the Regions warns in a set of recommendations that call on to do more to sustain rural regions.
Open markets have long been known to stimulate economic growth, as the free movement of people, goods and services across borders drives innovation and commercial dynamism. These benefits are even more pronounced in the digital domain. Enabling seamless crossborder digital commerce can help companies to build at scale, and benefits consumers by widening their choices. Europe has a strong technology and digital sector, made evident by its many disrupter brands, from Skype to BlaBlaCar, and a digitally savvy population. But by opening up the bloc into a single digital market, and by increasing internet access in its less developed economies, could the sector go further? How can Europe’s digital economy reach the same level of openness as the traditional one?
On 12 September 2017, the European Parliament voted to adopt a legislative act that aims at the promotion of very fast wireless internet access in local communities. This service will be provided free of charge to the public at large. The areas covered will encompass public administrations, libraries and hospitals, as well as outdoor spaces accessible to all. The aim is to increase accessibility to high-performance mobile internet, and to raise awareness of the benefits of such connectivity. Administrative procedures will be simplified and EU funds will be used to provide financial support to the establishment of such networks. This action comes within the framework of the digital single market, and is one of several legislative proposals announced on 14 September 2016 by the Commission, with its communication, ‘Connectivity for a competitive digital single market – Towards a European gigabit society’.
A summary of the policy debate is available.