EU Broadband Funding “strangled in bureaucracy” – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has criticised an emerging trend of the use of EU funds relating to broadband provision being “strangled in bureaucracy” rather than actually funding initiatives. Carthy said that the infamous bureaucracy and red tape for which Brussels is renowned is preventing funds from being delivered in a manner that provides the maximum benefits to communities.
“The story of EU bureaucracy and red-tape is infamous at this stage. We have repeatedly received commitments that processes will be simplified.
“Yet, since becoming elected as MEP I have highlighted a new trend which is seeing money supposedly earmarked for public services instead being funnelled into the creation of new EU-level offices and agencies that do not provide any added-value to work already being done on the ground.
“The latest example of this wastage is the creation of Broadband Competence Offices (BCOs), which are set to receive up to €880,000 per year for seven years. Instead of using this money to fund actual broadband and connectivity initiatives, the European Commission is establishing this network of so-called BCOs to replicate work already being done by local authorities and government departments.
“Late last year I uncovered that a Luxembourg based capital investment company is set to receive €7m a year for up to 20 years for simply disbursing another of the EU’s broadband funds. This is a new level of farce from the European Commission, which is rapidly losing confidence among citizens and groups who apply for funding.
“NGOs, local action groups, farmers and community projects regularly get in touch with my office regarding the impossible feat of applying for funding. It seems that the money becomes strangled in bureaucracy and goes to everyone BUT the targeted group for funding.
“I will be following up with the Broadband Competence Office in Ireland to enquire about how they plan to spend this money, and ensure that this funding actually goes towards its stated purpose – providing improved broadband access for communities”.