EU funding

EU FUNDING

The Investment Plan for Europe (the so-called Juncker plan) was launched by the Commission in the wake of the global economic and financial crisis and the low levels of investment affecting the EU.

The European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) is the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. The total amount of the fund is € 33.5 billion. Through EFSI, the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), help overcome the investment gap in the EU by mobilising private financing for strategic investments. € 2 billion are disbursed in the form of loans or equity for broadband infrastructure. After an initial three-year period (2015-2018), the so-called “EFSI 2.0” extends the lifetime of the fund from mid-2018 to end 2020.

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is another key EU funding instrument established in 2013 to support projects in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures. Of a total budget of € 30.4 billion, approximately € 1 billion have been earmarked for CEF Telecoms (2014-2020). From these, € 150 million are dedicated to broadband networks. The WiFi4EU initiative, which finances the installation of free Wi Fi networks in local communities, is part of CEF Telecoms and has a total budget of €120 million.

The Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (CEBF) is a new investment platform set up by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission. It plans to invest in equity and quasi-equity in 7-12 broadband projects each year from 2018 till 2022. The fund manager, Cube Infrastructure Partners, is in charge of identifying eligible broadband projects. The projects should contribute to attaining the 2025 Gigabit society targets (connectivity of 100 Mbps upgradable to 1Gbps) and be based on open access models. The Fund will invest in greenfield projects in underserved areas. The target size of the fund is around € 500 million.

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI) are the biggest EU public funding source supporting broadband investments. ESI Funds include five different funds, two of which provide dedicated budgets for broadband roll-out: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural development (EAFRD). € 6.94 billion are supporting broadband investments.

The European Commission has tabled proposals for the next EU budget (Multi Annual Framework, 2021-2027] – in May 2018. The proposals, currently being negotiated, foresee a budget of € 42.3 billion for the CEF, out of which €3 billion for CEF Telecoms. The Digital Europe Programme is also part of the Multi Annual Framework proposals with an overall budget of € 9.2 billion to boost investment in 5 focus areas (supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cyber-security, advancing digital skills, and ensuring the wide use of digital technologies across the economy and the society).