EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan is satisfied with the Greek government’s push for rural broadband, claiming that it will help farmers increase production.
Speaking on the sidelines of the European Broadband Awards on 20 November, Hogan told EURACTIV.com, “Greece is one of the finest Mediterranean countries in terms of the diversified nature of our products, and of course we need rural broadband for all of our people in Greece to be able to produce more.”
He added that rural broadband would be a key factor to incentivise Greek people to live in rural areas and that being provided with the necessary technologies would improve quality of life.
Referring to the general improvement of the country’s finances, he noted it was a “positive sign” because the figures show it. “And I think they [the Greek people] are starting to feel it now,” he emphasised.
Rural broadband project
The European Broadband Awards is an annual event where the European Commission recognises outstanding broadband deployment projects in Europe. For 2017, Greece won the “territorial cohesion in rural and remote areas” prize with the large-scale project “Rural Broadband”.
According to data, the project aimed to ensure access for almost half a million people to modern, broadband telecommunication services.
“Greece is a mountainous country with thousands of islands. So, strong public intervention to ensure that these remote regions have access to new technologies is too crucial on how the country will develop in the coming years as it comes out of the crisis,” Minister of Digital Policy, Media and Telecommunications Nikos Pappas said.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras’ close ally added that any region in the country that did not have these connectivity options would have far fewer growth opportunities.
“The message is too strong, our political determination is non-negotiable and the message sent by the Commission with this award is more than clear,” Pappas insisted.
Greece ranked 26 at the Digital Economy and Society Index 2017, which warned that the country’s low performance in digital skills risks is acting as a “brake” to the further development of its digital economy and society.
In an interview with EURACTIV Greece in March, opposition center-right lawmaker Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou blamed the government for not having taken a single step on the issue of deepening the digital strategy.
Her statements triggered the reaction of the government, which said that the “tragic performance” during the 2007-2013 period led the EU executive to block €1.2 billion EU funds for IT projects.
The current Syriza-led government founded the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information and drew up the first National Digital Strategy.