Brussels, 30 Jul 2003
The Commission has published a set of guidelines on the conditions and procedures governing the implementation of EU structural funds in the electronic communication sector.
The guidelines are designed to help regional and local authorities evaluate and select investment projects related to electronic communications. Specifically, they aim to encourage regional and local authorities to participate in projects that are part of a global strategy for regional development. In doing so, it is hoped that a 'digital divide' between regions of the EU can be avoided.
Commenting on the guidelines, Michel Barnier, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, said that it is necessary for the Commission to extend a helping hand to the remote and isolated regions of the EU in order to stimulate their competitive potential. 'Regions such as these, [...] will not be able to secure the high levels of investment they need to access modern communication networks from the market alone.'
However, Mr Barnier warned that such assistance should not distort competition and that careful assessment is needed so that the rules on competition and competitive tendering are respected. In light of such concerns, the guidelines have been designed to ensure transparency in the evaluation and selection processes.