Renew Europe CoR nominated Gillian Coughlan (IE) and Mart Vorklaev (EE) to the Broadband Platform. This platform aims to contribute to the deployment of faster, better and sustainable high-speed broadband in all European regions and in particular in rural and sparsely populated, working thus towards eliminating the digital divide due to geographical location and/or market failure.

Mart Vorklaev (Estonian Reform Party) has already been a member of the Broadband Platform for the last two years:

The confinement showed us that stable and high quality broadband covering all of Europe’s regions is key for a healthy economy and the basis for uninterrupted social life. I am proud to be again part of the Broadband Platform to continue the efforts to bring fast internet to the sparsely populated rural areas of the Baltics as well as other EU regions.

Gillian Coughlan (Fianna Fáil), member of the Cork County Council, is excited about the opportunity to contribute her County’s experience with the implementation of the National Broad Plan, the Irish Government’s plan to deliver high speed broadband services to all businesses, farms and households in Ireland.

Access to high speed broadband is a necessity for families and businesses, particularly in light of our experiences during the COVID restrictions. As a teacher I personally have to rely on everyone having access to fast internet during these difficult months. Regional and rural areas must be provided with parity of access to the educational, commercial and opportunities that the internet offers, so as not to further define the urban/ rural divide in the European Union. Due to our geography and the importance of the digital sector for our economy, the roll-out of broadband is one of the national priorities. However, it is a complex and costly exercise and we’ve learned a lot in the past years. I am looking forward to bringing Cork County’s experience to the table but also to learn from best practice examples from other regions, assess different financing and technology choices and models and both learn about as well as participate in shaping new policy approaches in this field.

The Broadband Platform establishes a regular political dialogue amongst the European Commission as represented by the responsible Commissioners and DG CONNECT on the one hand, and the European Committee of the Regions as represented by its Members most interested in this matter selected on a basis representative of the diversity of political groups and territories. The Platform will also offer opportunities to hear stakeholders from different socio-economic sectors and areas across Europe.

The Platform is not meant to become a new inter-institutional structure, but to provide a political forum to debate topics of mutual interest relevant to the deployment, maintenance and development of high-speed broadband across all European regions and territories, especially on the issues facing rural and sparsely populated areas suffering from problems of connectivity and digital divide.

The Platform’s agenda will be based on four main pillars:

· Policy and governance
· Technology choices
· Financial opportunities
· Regulatory framework