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Connecting Europe Facility – The EU must not “cut” the ambition to play an important role in fostering the deployment of future-proof, open and competitive fibre networks


11 Oct 2012



As talks between EU Member States and EU institutions on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 intensify, there are increasing concerns that funding to support ambitious investments in communications infrastructure may fail to be considered as a major priority.

The European Commission adopted last year a comprehensive proposal worth €9bn to establish a Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) aimed at supporting investments in open electronic communication networks. However, possible budget cuts may hit precisely those funds that could contribute the most to Europe’s future growth, which would cause Europe to lose further ground in the global competitiveness race.

“The communication infrastructure is the backbone of a healthy service economy” said Tom Ruhan, chairman of ECTA, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association. “Small and medium size businesses today and even more in the future need a seamless high-speed connected environment allowing innovation and growth. The lack of investments in state-of-the-art open networks is a brake to economic growth. Cutting investment in communication networks would simply mean that we are not making our backbone fit for the challenges ahead”.

Tom Ruhan continued: “EU governments must realise that, if we need to spend less, we need to look at where the money was spent in the past: we cannot cut investments in our future or we will just repeat our mistakes.”

For competitive telecoms operators the importance of the CEF and of public involvement in the deployment of high speed broadband networks lies also in the guarantee that – contrary to most private investments made by dominant operators in closed networks – public money is spent on future-proof and open networks, ensuring competition by alternative operators via wholesale access. This guarantee comes from the applicability of the pro-competitive principles and rules laid out in the State Aid Guidelines for public funding of broadband networks which are aimed at fostering competition and contribute to improving broadband services and reducing prices for European consumers.

The rationale of the open access rule is simple and well justified: public money should be spent in a way that maximises consumer welfare.

Without clear, non-discriminatory open access obligations and future-proofing requirements, taxpayers’ money would mainly benefit dominant operators, who would regain monopolistic market positions to the detriment of innovation and at the expenses of consumers.


ECTA (the European Competitive Telecommunications Association - ) is the pan-European pro-competitive trade association that represents more than 100 of the leading challenger telecoms operators across Europe. For over a decade, ECTA has been supporting the regulatory and commercial interests of telecoms operators, ISPs & equipment manufacturers in pursuit of a fair regulatory environment that allows all electronic communications providers to compete on level terms. Our members have been the leading innovators in Internet services, broadband, business communications, entertainment and mobile. Contact: Federico Poggi, Senior Manager Public Affairs (+32 2 290.01.03 / ).