EU commissioner: Give us €7 billion and we'll give you a digital Europe

The European Investment Bank funds a Dutch Project as Neelie Kroes pushes for similar funding elsewhere

The European Investment Bank on Thursday announced that it would provide a ¬125 million (US$162 million) loan to fund high-speed broadband roll outs in 50 Dutch municipalities, while the European Digital Agenda commissioner pushed for more money for similar projects throughout the European Union.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes called for the European Parliament and member states to give their backing to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a plan to use around ¬50 billion from the E.U. budget to be leveraged by the European Investment Bank (EIB) for investment in energy, transport and communications projects. Around ¬7 billion of that would go to next-generation networks, like the one in the Netherlands.

The EIB loan to Reggefiber will be matched by six commercial banks allowing the company to develop an ultra-high-speed fiber-to-the-home network, with possible upload and download speeds of up to 1Gbps open for access by all operators.

Negotiations on the Connecting Europe Facility are at a crucial stage as member states are due to decide on the E.U.'s budget for 2014-2020 in the next few weeks. The budget is also being discussed in the European Parliament.

"Fiber broadband can transform the digital life of a business or school or family. It is great to see Reggefiber offering another 500,000 Dutch families these opportunities. My hope is to support more projects like this using the proposed Connecting Europe Facility," Kroes said in a statement.

She also took to Twitter to urge people to sign a declaration calling on senior E.U. policy makers to support and approve the Connecting Europe Facility. By close of business on Thursday, fewer than 40 people had signed up and most of them were senior business leaders.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
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