“Private Investment Firm to receive bulk of EU funding intended for rural broadband” – Matt Carthy MEP
European funding for broadband will not adequately benefit the communities that require it as more than €35million of the available pot is earmarked for private fund manager, MEP Matt Carthy has said.
The Sinn Féin representative said:
“Earlier this year, the European Commission announced that it would be opening the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund in cooperation with the European Investment Bank. This five-year fund is worth €500 million and is supposed to meet growing demand for financing of smaller-scale broadband projects across Europe, especially in rural regions.
“It has now come to light that rather than sending this money through local councils or national governments, to identify the most worthy recipients, the money will be funnelled through a Luxembourg based capital investment company who stand to gain as much as €7 million every year for 5 years.
“When I questioned the European Commission about the choice of Cube Infrastructure as managers of this fund, I discovered that no public procurement process took place for the selection of these partners.
“Further still, although the fund will only be open for broadband applicants for 5 years, Cube will continue to be paid a sum every year for 20 years following the investment period.
“It is quite clear here who the winners are here. At both national and EU levels, money supposedly available for the delivery of broadband is ending up in the hands of just about everyone BUT the people and projects who need it.
“The National Broadband Plan is in tatters following the failure of the Government to pull reliable partners into the process. What’s left of the strategy stands a real danger of being struck down by potential future investigations into fair competition now that the final players of the consortium have been identified.
“It is staggering to think of the millions of euros that are going straight into the private fund managers before even a single additional house has been connected.
“It is pointless to talk about rural regeneration and reversing depopulation while a large part of the country is missing the vital infrastructure that is broadband.
“I am still waiting on full disclosure of documents related to this fund, but plan on submitting an official complaint based on the failure to conduct a public procurement procedure”.