The EU plans to invest billions of euros into the region’s digital economy, according to the EU Digital Economy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.
Oettinger told the press that conferences with the authorities, local communities, investors and telecommunications groups would commence next year to initialise a plan to use available resources to expand Europe’s digital network, so that the EU becomes more “connected”. “It will be about the questions of who will do what and how the expansion can be financed. A double-digit billion euro amount qualifies for this as part of the EU’s investment package,” Oettinger told German magazine Focus.
The European Commission presented a 300 billion euro plan to boost the region’s economy in November. Critics are however sceptical about whether local investors will provide the funds required for the plan. The EU itself is setting aside only 8 billion euros of the sum, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) is contributing 5 billion euros of capital to the plan which will be managed by the EIB itself. The 300 billion euro investment contributed over a period of three years would boost the region’s economy by creating about a million jobs, in addition to the benefits of the newly updated infrastructure.
The plan proves that Europe is intent on keeping the region in line with the global standards in North America and Asia and that the EU recognises the need for efficient digital communication in an increasingly globalised world. Along with local plans such as Italy’s plan to expand their wifi network to provide free wifi across the country, Europe is clearly prioritising the need for widespread access to adequate digital technology. Increased access will mean that more people will have the means to participate in e-commerce, making it simpler for businesses and consumers to interact, thus boosting entrepreneurship and the economy.
Europe is also a leader in the research and development of new technologies and an updated digital infrastructure will ensure that they remain ahead and competent in developing new innovations and products, which can improve the life of people living both in and outside of the European Union.