Competition (State Aid)
High quality telecommunications infrastructure is crucial for connecting and integrating the Union and its remote regions, allowing all users to have access to private and public telecommunications services contributing to social cohesion and supporting a more competitive and sustainable economy. Investments in telecommunications network deployment come primarily from private operators with public support complementing these private initiatives. State aid control in the telecommunications sector plays an important role in developing a co-ordinated investment strategy. The State aid Broadband Guidelines, adopted in 2013 and the relevant provisions of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), adopted in 2014, set out specific criteria for the allocation of public funds for the pro-competitive infrastructure deployment in areas that need it most. They seek to ensure that public support leads to modern infrastructure increasing consumer welfare and reducing the 'digital divide' where commercial operators have no incentive to invest, while avoiding crowding-out of private investments, subsidising local monopolies or discriminating certain technology platforms.
The State aid rules for the deployment of broadband infrastructure have helped Member States to channel public support in a pro-competitive manner in line with the objectives set out for 2020 by the Digital Agenda for Europe. These objectives have been updated in 2016 by the Commission in its Gigabit Society Communication, that sets additional and more ambitious targets for telecommunications network deployment by 2025 in line with expected use, market and technological developments: (1) all households should have access to internet connectivity of at least 100 Mbps download upgradable to 1 Gbps; (2) socio-economic drivers such as schools, transport hubs and main providers of public services as well as digitally intensive enterprises should have access to internet connectivity with download and upload speeds of 1 Gbps; (3) uninterrupted 5G coverage for all urban areas and major terrestrial transport paths should be ensured. In February 2020, the Commission published its new EU’s digital strategy (Shaping Europe’s Digital Future). Investments in connectivity to achieve the EU 2025 objectives are the most fundamental building block of this digital transformation and its implementation.
The consultation process
The Commission has launched two Internet-based consultations:
The objective of this public consultation is to allow interested parties to provide their feedback and experiences in the implementation of the State aid rules related to the State aid Broadband Guidelines adopted in 2013 and the relevant provisions of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), adopted in 2014.
The purpose of the targeted consultation is to collect information on technical, specific provisions of the Guidelines and of the relevant provisions of the GBER.
NB. The targeted questionnaire is for the moment available only in English. The French and German versions will be available as from 21st of September.
The contributions are available here .
The roadmap for this evaluation has been published on 16 June.
The result are available here.
EU Guidelines for the application of State aid rules in relation to the rapid deployment of broadband networks (Official Journal C25/1 26.01.2013)
Commission Regulation (EU) N°651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty (Official Journal C 387 L 187 26.06.2014, p.1)
Communication from the commission to the European parliament, the council, the European economic and social committee and the committee of the regions - A Digital Agenda for Europe (COM(2010)245 final 19.5.2010)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market - Towards a European Gigabit Society - COM(2016)587 and Staff Working Document - SWD(2016)300.
Study on The role of State Aid for the rapid deployment of broadband networks in the EU.
Report on State aid for broadband infrastructure in Europe – Assessment and policy recommendations, CERRE, November 2018.
Directorate-General for Competition – Unit C4 – State aid II
Please always indicate the reference number in your correspondence: HT.5766
Directorate-General for Competition