back to article Multi-billion Euro broadband fund obliterated by EU budget cut

A €9.2bn fund proposed by Brussels officials to help bring faster broadband to the 27 Member States by 2020 has been obliterated after the European Union agreed to a budget cut that was engineered by Brit Prime Minister David Cameron. It's a disaster for commissioner Neelie Kroes, whose digital agenda has been left in tatters …


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  1. SMabille

    Cameron promise...

    Probably the only way Cameron could keep his promise for UK to have one of the best broadband infrastructure in Europe.

    If you can't deliver any more than >24Mbits/s to 90% of the population and 2M-to-24Mbits/s for the unlucky 10% of us, instead of pushing BT (or others if they were allowed to bid...) to provide FTTH, what do you do? Kill the budget so no one can invest in better broadband.

    Sounds like a very good long term strategy. Well done!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A billion?

    They can't do anything with a billion quid?

    Why do we need these assh***s again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A billion?

      Yes, £2 a person ought to be more than enough to roll-out continent-wide high speed broadband.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was at a meeting in which a representative of the EC said they wanted to take control of the independent monitoring of some energy metrics currently funded by industry. It was pointed out that the industry was already paying for this and because of commercial sensitivities they preferred to keep funding the metrics part, but that the EC was welcome to take ownership of audit if it made them happy. They said no, they wanted to pay for all of it and I in turn asked if they weren't interested in saving the EC money? That got a laugh. I am not a Euro sceptic, but I realised that there is little incentive for EC civil servants to save money.

  4. Phil Standen


    Why don't we use the cash from HS2? Surely sending people's mind state (by the time this is built, the tech will have caught up) is more efficient than the wetware?

    1. feanor

      Re: HS2?

      Because its a vanity project, a distraction from the fact that the rest of the network is rotting away. They can't afford not to do it because its the only evidence they are doing anything constructive about the problem at all.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: HS2?

        Of course, they *could* install a lot of very fat fibres alongside the rail-line if they ever get round to building it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: HS2?

          Why would they do that? There's unimaginable amounts of backhaul capacity already installed in the UK. Companies have gone bust building fibre backbones there is no demand for.

          The challenge with broadband is in the last mile delivery - and fibres alongside railway lines don't help with that at all.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: HS2?

            Ah. You have a point. But isn't that the same problem that HS2 faces? You can shave 30 minutes of your trip down from the north, but lose it again in the cab on the Euston Road.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    My hairs stand on end

    "almost budget-neutral in the long run"

    Translation: Go into debt now to implement [preferred project] and hope to rob the populace for taxes in the future. Yaarrrr!!

    "The recent capital increase of the [EIB] of €10bn brings the promise..."

    Is that some freshly printed "money"?

    1. PC Paul

      Re: My hairs stand on end

      "almost budget-neutral in the long run"

      Surprisingly for super-cynical (realistic?) me, I read that more as that the projected growth due to better connectivity was projected to make up for the costs of doing it in the first place.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    We can't annoy the farmers!

    and cut the CAP - which eats just under 1/2 of the EU budget. Got to keep the French farmers happy, and Greece would go completely bust if they could not fiddle their olive subsidies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We can't annoy the farmers!

      As one of the reporters on the BBC said

      "this is a budget for growth .... if you are a french cow"!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: french cow

        or a french horse too perhaps ?

        1. John Hughes

          Re: french cow

          Romanian horse.

          Dutch spiv

          Luxemburg food processor

          French cardboard box maker

          UK cheap food buyer.

      2. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: We can't annoy the farmers!

        "this is a budget for growth .... if you are a french cow"!

        But bad news for the Romanian horse industry :)

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: We can't annoy the farmers!

          At least now you know why your lasagne tastes like ass!

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: We can't annoy the farmers!

      Can't they use organic semiconductors, and pay for them out of CAP? Maybe we could get our OLED TVs subsidised?

    3. Mips

      Re: We can't annoy the farmers!

      Oh! I heard it was the German farmer that are the problem.

      But then again there is all the tobacco growers in Eastern Europe.

    4. John Hughes

      Re: We can't annoy the farmers!

      Of course the CAP couldn't be cut.

      The only way Cameron could get his tiny 20-30 billion "cut" was by promising not to touch the CAP.

      None of this is real, it's just electoral willy waggling.

  7. Richard Jones 1

    Dose of Reality?

    At the moment the EU is subsidising all sort of dead or dying traders to live on life support. this money comes from those who can still work as they have a job 'doing something useful' The budget was not cut it was held at a previously agreed level so that less was taken from the living. If you want to pay something towards sunrise industry fine, but someone, (hint the French), are going to have to agree to change their agriculture so it is no longer a workfare scheme with little or no value. The money thus released might then go to help sunrise industries rather than destroying what little hope the current tax payers have of a life free of growing debt.

    1. JohnG

      Re: Dose of Reality?

      It's never going to happen. There are fewer net paying countries that there are net takers - and with Qualified Majority Voting, the net takers will always be in the majority. They are never going to vote to receive less, in the same way that our MPs always vote themselves pay rises. The only way to fix this is for us to leave the EU and keep our relationship with the EU as a trade deal, rather than a debt union.

  8. AdamSweetman


    Getting really fed up of the slight of hand distraction politicking lately.

    Lets try and get the masses up in arms that the big fat central pot of pay-thrice broadband pork barrel won't be available to subsidize network build out by former-state owned national monopolies who should be doing it anyway!

    At least they won't be talking about where the remaining money is actually being spent, for example funding 56,000 bureaucrats on fat expat private school high pension deals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hilarious

      Speaking as a minor bureaucrat, my salary is decent, though I've earned much higher in two previous jobs. My wages have gone down in recent years (since we were reformed by Kinnock in 2004) personally I've seen around an 8% decrease, more if cost-of-living is considered. Strangely enough we *are* currently offered a decent pension, but this seems likely to be reformed negatively before I get anywhere near to claim it - I'm paying much larger contributions that when I was in the UK!

      According to the EP figures, the number of EU bureaucrats is around 55K, dwarfed by the size of Brummy Council, but why let facts get in the way of a good discussion?

      My children attend a school, which isn't 'private' but 'european'; it was built in the 1960's at the launch of the EEC project, its budget is relentlessly cut, the local state hardly maintains it and the UK state is helpfully offering to withdraw all English teachers.

      Cameron did do a 'reform' recently on a bunch of bureaucrats, he savaged the Commonwealth Secretariat, wildly increasing their salaries and updating their perks...trebles all round! quote "The reforms included a 3.8% increase in the salaries of all staff, and the provision of non-contributory private healthcare and dental cover for all staff and their immediate families." I don't remember the Daily Mail mentioning this? Just checked the DM website history and they must have missed this..

      details here on the Commonwealth Secretariat website

      They get an education allowance of £18706 upwards.....

      Back to the Digital Agenda 2020, it's very important that TheRegister should keep commenting on the political social technical implications. I'm still not sure if the EP actually will vote for the 'slashed' budget for the next 7 years, but as the MEP's are politicians I guess they might. I'm sure we technocrats/bureaucrats will find a way to encourage safe, inclusive growth in the online citizenship realm whilst respecting privacy and avoiding market excesses.

      Cette communication ne constitue en aucun cas un engagement formel de la part de la Commission.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The title should be different

    Multi-billion Euro broadband fund OBLITERATED by EU budget cut - Farming and Fish subsidies practically unaffected - more on

    Farming is indeed a industry with a bright future, where our tens of millions unemployed youths in the EU will find long lasting career opportunities and self actualization. Farming is also the engine that produces new technologies and creates markets that ensure technological progress and prosperity.

    One recent example is the horsemeat burger. Eat something completely differed to what it says on the tin from somewhere you don't really wanna know - real progress of the Common Agricultural Policy which started in 1962.

    In comparison, the avalanche of patent applications in India, China and the US is a short sighted waste of money. These countries will fall into oblivion with their technology focussed growth strategies.

    1. John Hughes

      Re: The title should be different

      "Farming is indeed a industry with a bright future, where our tens of millions unemployed youths in the EU will find long lasting career opportunities and self actualization."

      Yeah, we'll make lasagne out of 'em.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    Had to happen.

    Cut the gravy train of fat-arsed bureaucracy or cut the infrastructure investment?

    Difficult choice......

  11. Grommet

    Surely national broadband deployment is an issue for national governments not the EU?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Surely national broadband deployment is an issue for national governments not the EU?

      You'd like to think so but:

      BDUK - National Government Programme - Barely got off the starting blocks. Most regions have only just got around to choosing a provider. No spades in the ground yet.

      Cornwall - BT/EU programme - Running very nicely with good progress being made. I think it's even on schedule to complete when predicted.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Nah - the EU has consistently funded national infrastructure projects that it believes will deliver economic or social benefit to an area - particularly areas that have fallen behind.

      In the past that might have been a road or a port or a factory or what have you - these days enabling infrastructure is more likely to be electronic in nature.

      Ireland is a good example of this process - they got something like 15 billion euros of infrastructure investment that got them to the point where companies like Microsoft and Dell could invest in the country. Some was spent on roads, some on education and training. Unfortunately it's gone a bit tit's up since, but that's down to national government not the EU.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: EU?

        but that's down to national government not the EU

        Actually, it's down to the "let's let it all hang out" financial boardello and bubble-blowing attitude encouraged by the EU freaks. That fact that they are incapable of reining in spending is the icing on the cake:

        Irish banks borrowed much cheap money after joining the eurozone in 1999. The banks bet most of the borrowed money on properties in Britain, Ireland, and the United States, a strategy that paid good dividends during the housing bubble until it popped in 2008.

        In 2008, Ireland insured its banks against all losses, costing it more than €50 billion ($69 billion).

        Anglo Irish Bank, the bank with the most money to lose, neared bankruptcy in September 2008, but it and other Irish banks persuaded Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to give them money for short-term cash problems, not a serious long-term problem, they claimed.

        Two years later, Anglo Irish Bank and two other small banks have been nationalized. Financial aid has been given to Allied Irish and the Bank of Ireland.

        Ireland is currently spending about €50 billion ($69 billion) while tax revenue is about €31 billion ($42 billion).

    3. itzman

      Re:national broadband deployment is an issue for national governments

      no. If you actually have USED broadband, you would realise the issue is ultimately local. the last half mile. It is in fact exactly where your local council might or might not decide to put in money to improve local access - there is no problem with fibre to the exchange. Its the fibre to the cabinet that is the issue.

      and you could almost go on a street by street levy, increasing council taxes for people who wanted fibre...

      Gosh, the concept of paying for something you want, and not paying for something you dont? radical.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Get rid of the common agriculture policy and they could fund anything they wanted.

  13. Da Weezil

    Euro Curruption begins at home.

    Ah.. I bet there will be the end of any hope of faster broadband for the REAL west of Wales (thats the bit past Swansea for those who rarely look west of Cardiff), where we have been left behind in the political fudge that has seen Labour represented areas prioritized - despite the claim that areas with enterprise zones would be prioritized It seems that where such areas didn't vote labour (like the 3 southwestern counties) they are relegated to the second tranche for this money supposedly to bring broadband to rural areas - behind areas that are bordering urban centres like Newport and Swansea and behind areas that already have access to ADSL2 - which is quite scarce across the "real" west.

    From the Enterprise Zone Wales website

    "With around 30% of the UK's energy supplies now coming via Pembrokeshire and contributing over £2 billion a year to the Treasury, we are rapidly increasing our reputation as the 'New Energy Capital' of the UK.

    Based on existing and potential new energy sites the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone is a unique location with access to deep water port facilities coupled with sea conditions that are ideal for the development of both Wave and Tidal Stream Marine Energy."

    So we meet the priority criteria... but don't get the money - how does that work? Id ask the minister responsible, but given her political allegiance I doubt I would get an honest answer. We give plenty to the economy of the UK... but we get a scant return.

    I'm sure that once the money has been blown in the Welsh Labour heartlands we will be told sorry but the money has run out - not helped by the way they have procrastinated over this whole issue. The Welsh Assembly whatever it is calling itself this year whilst trying to apply a title that it has no claim to by stealth is a waste of money and a vanity project that serves NO One expect those with their snouts in the Cardiff bay trough.

    The whole BDUK set up in Wales smacks of patronage and corruption - quite fitting for something run with Ei

    Euro money

  14. Turtle_Fan

    DCMS Press Release Translated in Proper English

    "We were hoping to give you a frank commentary and our views on the matter but then we had phone calls from 2 whips and a couple of No.10 media guys who threatened that unless we fall into line our minister is risking the naughty chair at the next cabinet.

    So this is no time to be asking about axed future investment; this is the time to all come together in support of the inspirational leadership of our dear leader who can never set a foot wrong.

    We sincerely hope we have not jeopardised our minister's chance for career advancement and wish you annoying journos could see what we see; everything's fine"

  15. Sirius Lee

    Good news

    I'm a Euro enthusiast but not because it spends money relentlessly. If people want to live in the back of beyond that's their choice and there are consequences. If you are a farmer and want broadband, pay for it. If you can't or don't it means your business is not viable so you need to go do something else. If you are a farm labourer, ditto. Despite chicken little warnings about running out of food, no such thing is going to happen so the mountains and lakes are not appropriate. I agree with 'Richard Jones 1'

    Europe is our future, our kids future (think of the kids ;-)). A small nation, no matter how successful in the past, is going to struggle alone in despite the best endeavours of the little Englanders (are you listening, wife?). But Europe is not going to be a viable partner while it is demonstrably irresponsible.

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