Following the broadband money

EU broadband budget is 80% underspent with two years to go

with 6 comments

Less than 20% of the money budgeted for European broadband projects this year has been allocated, according to the European Commission.

Speaking at the Every European Digital event in Brussels, the director of policy coordination for the regional policy directorate, DG Regio, Dr Rudolf Niessler said that of the €2.3bn set aside to support the roll out of broadband access networks in Europe, just over €418m has been allocated to projects. However, as these figurs are for the end of 2009, things may have improved somewhat.

Dr Harald Gruber, who evaluates broadband project proposals for the European Investment Bank (EIB), said the bank was looking for projects, especially high speed broadband.

“There is a lack of compelling business cases, especially outside cities,” he said. “It is hard to find backers for fibre to the home (FTTH) projects.”

However, the EIB recently gave €150m to France’s Iliad group for a four million home FTTH scheme.

Niessler said a total of €15.2bn was up for grabs for this budget period, which ends in 2013. He called on countries to come up with suitable projects before then or else the money would disappear.

“It is not acceptable to fail to spend the money allocated,” he said.

Several speakers suggested that the countries that were providing most of the funding were unlikely to encourage uptake or to warn of the impending deadline. “It’s money back in their pockets,” said one.

DG Regio was now working with member states and public authorities to find processes and projects that would speed up broadband spending. It had identified three “RegioStar” case studies, in the Auvergne in France, in Brandenburg, Germany and Lithuania that countries could refer to for ideas and best practice.

The UK had done relatively well, finding projects worth almost €91m, just over 80% of its €113.5m budget. Latvia and Ireland were overbudget, allocating 119% and 114% of their budgets respectively, Niesseler said.

Niessler said many member states suffered from a broadband “absorption” problem. “They find it easier to identify road building projects than broadband projects,” he said. Poland, he said, had been given a €1bn broadband budget this year but less than 1% had been allocated.

Take-up of budget allocations in EU

Source: DG Regio


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/06 at 16:23

6 Responses

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  1. Just small correction, LT on your chart refers to Lithuania and not Latvia. Latvia has not allocated any funds for broadband.


    2011/06/07 at 12:41

    • Thanks Jonathan – the quickness of the hand deceives the eye some times.


      2011/06/07 at 20:15

  2. Ian,
    A good piece of work! Do you know what the UK has spent 80% of its budget on? Given total sum adds around 20% to the BDUK budget it might provide a pointer to the sort of effect we can expect from the bigger programme.


    2011/06/14 at 08:21

    • Adrian, if you know what the UK is spending its broadband money on, and it’s not on broadband roll-out, I think you should tell us.


      2011/06/14 at 09:11

  3. Thank you very much for this post Ian. You mention the source for the graph as DG REGIO. I’ve been trying to find it for about an hour (or reproduce it from the data) but haven’t been able to. Would you mind providing a link? Thanks!


    2011/06/17 at 14:26

    • The source was an earlier presentation where the numbers were repeated at the Brussels event a couple of years later. I feel sure that what is reflected in the table must be out of date, but no-one at DG Regio has given me updated figures. I hope that helps.
      It is also true to say that there are plenty of budgets that could be tapped, making it extremely hard to add up how much the EU is really spending on next generation broadband.


      2011/06/17 at 15:24

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