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March 6, 2012. Speaking today at CEBIT in Germany, Neelie Kroes, VP of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, reviewed the progress of the Connecting Europe Facility initiative.
The Commission proposed last October to allocate from 2014 to 2020 over Eur. 7 billion to the development of a very fast (up to 100 Mbps) digital infrastructure, especially in less-favored areas, and about Eur. 2 billion to pan-European interconnected online public services such as eProcurement, eID, business mobility, eHealth (e.g., digital medical records), customs-related projects and eJustice. The proposed Connecting European Facility (CEF) regulation is currently before the European Parliament. CEF is part of the broader Digital Agenda for Europe, of which the development of e-gov services is a key component.
Why is CEF potentially relevant to Postal Operators ?
Firstly broadband helps e-commerce, one of the Post’s most buoyant market segments, by increasing the number of e-shoppers. In countries where broadband penetration is increasing fast (e.g., Poland) the total e-commerce market grows at 25-40% a year.
Posts will also team up with other partners to provide cross-border e-gov services mentioned by the EC – customs-related projects of course, and others.
Thirdly, from a strategic standpoint, some EU Posts may even consider joining the partnerships which will build and manage the new infrastructures. The EC itself indicated it would fund “individual companies, special purpose vehicles and consortia involving, but not limited to, telecom companies, equipment suppliers, other utility companies (water,sewage, energy, transport), or construction companies which may find synergies in combined infrastructure investment and which may invest either alone or in partnership with regional and local authorities, including municipalities, who will most likely establish concessions for managing wholesale services of broadband infrastructures. Funding would be managed by the Commission together with International Financial Institutions”.