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EU Court of Auditors Report on Ireland’s Broadband strategy highlights the good, the bad and the ugly

Fine Gael MEP and member of the Budget Control Committee of the European Parliament today (Tuesday) welcomed a report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA), which has audited the role of Broadband in Ireland, along with four other EU Member States. The Court of Auditors is the equivalent of the Irish Controller General and reports to the European Parliament’s Budget Control Committee on the effectiveness of EU spending.

In this case, the ECA looked at the €75m that was provided from the European Regional Development Fund to Ireland for the Broadband project. The total Irish expenditure on the project is €275m.

“The report is mixed when it comes to Ireland. On a positive level, it highlights that Ireland has made significant progress, especially in recent years delivering fast broadband connectivity. It cites good overall coordination from the Department of Communication. While Ireland is not alone in failing to hit targets, via two separate plans announced in 2012 and 2015, the report recognises that Ireland is likely to be ahead of other EU Members States in achieving the new 2025 targets.”

“What is worrying are outstanding issues concerning the Investment Ireland plan for broadband. According to the ECA, this cannot be delivered on time. Equally worrying is the “financing gap”. The ECA believes it is “highly unlikely” that the total finance package for the plan can now be delivered.”

“The report refers to the deployment of broadband services as “unclear” at this stage, given the fact that two of the three bidders for the remaining part of the project have dropped out. The ECA highlights the role of COMREG, which it believes needs more enforcement powers to ensure that competition issues are addressed in the Irish market.”

“Ireland is not alone in missing clearly stated targets when it comes to delivering broadband. Having all communities and citizens connected is vital for Europe to deliver a better way of life and new business, especially in peripheral parts of the EU. Funding from the EU to help Member States deliver on that commitment should be audited and we can all learn from that. The essence of the report for Ireland – we must try harder to deliver this key infrastructure.” concluded MEP Hayes.

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