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Geographical eInclusion

14 September 2009
by inadim -- last modified 15 September 2009

The European Union is committed to ensuring that the continent’s more remote and economically disadvantaged regions get the support they need to share in the benefits of economic growth. Digital technologies such as broadband internet access can play their part in narrowing disparities between regions and help to promote social and economic cohesion. The European Commission supports actions to develop an inclusive Information Society which embraces those who live in geographically less accessible areas.


When, in 2006, Europe’s Ministers signed the Riga Declaration for an inclusive Information Society, one objective that they set out was to increase the social and economic well-being of remote regions with the help of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

The potential already exists for broadband internet connections to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas. Such infrastructure can give those living in the more far flung corners of Europe access to goods and services without the need to travel great distances; and it is not just about buying commercial products via the internet. ICTs based on broadband services and eGovernment facilities can deliver vital public services and create employment.

Removing barriers

Unfortunately some barriers that hinder the full use of such technologies in outlying regions remain in place. At the moment, whilst overall broadband penetration in Europe is around 90%, only 71% of households in rural areas are covered by broadband services.

The Riga Declaration calls for action to reduce this disparity and has set a target that requires broadband coverage for at least 90% of Europeans by 2010. Funding through the EU’s Structural Funds will be used to achieve this goal.

In 2006, the Commission adopted a policy framework for “Bridging the Broadband gap”, which seeks to harness relevant EU policies and budgets to improve broadband facilities in remote regions. The emphasis is on addressing issues related to access, speed, quality of service and price. The conclusions of the 2007 Conference on Bridging the Broadband Gap, brought the debate on broadband to greater prominence in the policy agenda.

Source: European Commission

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