Monday

12th Nov 2018

Focus

Free wifi plan backed by MEP committee

  • The EU is planning to spend €120 million to increase the number of cities and villages that offer free wifi (Photo: Peter Teffer)

The European Parliament's industry committee rallied behind a plan to set up an EU wifi investment fund on Tuesday (25 April), paving the way for negotiations with national governments.

MEPs supported a legislative text which amends the original plan by the European Commission on several points, but largely backed the principle. They voted 52 in favour and seven against the text.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The plan would make €120 million in EU taxpayer money available for “local authorities and providers of public services”, like libraries, to set up an infrastructure that offers free wireless internet access.

Centre-left Portuguese MEP Carlos Zorrinho said the initiative, dubbed WiFi4EU, would “help to bolster the development of a more inclusive European digital society”.

One of the amendments that MEPs adopted on Tuesday was that they said users of the free wifi hotspots should be informed of the contribution of EU money.

Another change said that recipients of subsidies from the wifi fund should offer citizens free wifi “for no less than three years”.

A minority of MEPs opposed the whole plan for being a PR exercise.

Centre-right Belgian MEP Anneleen Van Bossuyt had introduced an amendment to reject the Commission's proposal.

Van Bossuyt, a member of the eurocritical ECR group, pointed out that cities and municipalities that have already installed a free wifi infrastructure cannot apply for money from the fund.

“This way the good students are being punished,” she said. The Belgian also criticised that the Commission's plan was not accompanied by an impact assessment.

A majority of national governments had previously rallied behind the proposal in principle, last December.

They too have a wish list of some changes, including ways to ensure that the money is divided in a “geographically balanced manner across the EU”.

The parliament's industry committee on Tuesday gave MEP Zorrinho a mandate to begin talks with the national governments, to reach a final compromise on how the fund should work.

The proposal was tabled last September after commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in his annual State of the European Union speech “every European village and every city” should have free wifi by 2020.

That promise was unrealistic without additional measures, but EU commission spokeswoman Nathalie Vandystadt told EUobserver in September that the wifi investment fund "is really a first step, and if the demand is higher, we hope to increase this budget".

Analysis

Juncker's unrealistic promise of free wifi

The commission president said "every European village and every city" will have public internet access in 2020, but the statement was not backed up by any legally binding target.

States seek softer access to EU wifi fund

Free wifi for all? Not on the current EU Commission proposal, which lacks the funds, MEPs say, and which could come at a price for users' privacy.

Visual Data

Mediterranean towns ready for EU-sponsored free wifi

The European Union's fund for free wireless internet connection hotspots is most popular in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Romania. Check if your municipality pre-registered.

Exclusive

EU official proposed covering up wifi portal flaw

Director of Electronic Communications Networks and Services Anthony Whelan says in an internal document that he wanted to eliminate "possible criticisms" and "marginalise questions".

Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation

National governments secured a one-year extension for publishing plans to make radio frequencies available for mobile communications - but some were nevertheless unable to meet the deadline.

News in Brief

  1. UK seeks swift use of new EU chemical weapons blacklist
  2. Barnier briefs EU ministers: intense negotiations continue
  3. Romanian minister preparing EU presidency steps down
  4. Finland says Russia possibly behind GPS jamming
  5. German AfD leader under fire for Swiss campaign funding
  6. Seehofer announces he will step down as CSU party leader
  7. EU condemns elections in Russia-occupied eastern Ukraine
  8. German Greens pick two top candidates for EU election

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  2. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  3. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  4. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials
  5. Liberals ally with Macron for election, but no candidate yet
  6. Revealed: Link between MEPs CO2 votes and domestic car jobs
  7. All Quiet on the Eastern Front?
  8. Merkel and Brexit in spotlight This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us