Cameron puts a kibosh on EU broadband funding

Flag ~ European Union

Flag ~ European Union (Photo credit: erjkprunczýk)

I am staunchly pro-Europe. Practically I think the union makes a vast and positive difference to our economy, whilst philosophically I prefer to stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbours and have our petty squabbles over a conference table, rather than a battlefield.

As such, the past few weeks of the Conservatives ramping up anti-EU feeling has got my goat. It was clear to me our Prime Minister David Cameron was thinking more about getting his back-benchers back on side when making his much delayed speech – following rows over gay marriage or collation politics – rather than thinking of the wider impact on both individuals and businesses.

Last week, he fought long into the night with only Haribo for fuel – according to the Evening Standard – to ensure a cut to the EU budget, saving money passing on from the UK purse over to Brussels. The Tory Right and EU skeptics applauded. Well done ol’ bean, now there is more in the pot to bail out banks rather than save our NHS services!

Only, it seems some politicians just don’t think about the consequences. A cut to a budget means a cut in funding for services. It was clear from all their vitriol, those MPs didn’t care where they were cutting from, as long as Great Britain didn’t have to pay. But now, the cracks in the budget are becoming holes and we can see projects beginning to disappear into the darkness.

Vice president of the European Commission and broadband advocate, Neelie Kroes, wrote a blog this weekend revealing that the proposals for her ‘Connecting Europe’ scheme would only be receiving €1bn out of the €9.2bn they had applied for.

Whilst she desperately tried to remain positive in her words, she had to admit “such a small sum” wouldn’t allow for the big plans she had for investing in broadband networks across the EU.

“I regret that, because broadband is essential for a digital single market, the rails on which all tomorrow’s digital services will run, and this could have been an innovative and highly-market oriented way to deliver it, almost budget-neutral in the long run,” wrote Kroes.

The VP points out that broadband targets have been agreed across the EU to ensure fast coverage for all by 2020, but this will now be the responsibility of each individual state, rather than all working together to ensure connectivity for both businesses and citizens across the continent.

Well bravo Mr Cameron. It is easy to get the public onside when all you talk about is pointless bureaucracy around the size of potatoes, but you manage to omit the schemes that actually could boost the daily lives of everyone, have a real positive impact on the economy and help businesses out of the hole they are in.

Bringing austerity into the EU is ludicrous when it continues to be proved it is damaging the economy on our shores. Investment into the likes of broadband is the best way out of this recession and thanks to party politics in the UK, the whole of the EU will suffer.

Kroes has promised to “work and fight even harder” for her broadband plans. I hope more people will work and fight even harder against allowing squabbles in a political party affect the recovery of 27 states. 

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