The European Commission (EC) has today renewed its calls on member states to improve broadband access in rural areas in order to fulfil its 'Broadband For All' pledge by 2010.
The EC called on member states to adapt their rural development programmes in order to place more emphasis on internet connectivity, given that around 30 per cent of the EU's rural population is still without high-speed broadband access.
Viviane Reding, commissioner for information society and media, argued that member states cannot afford to neglect productivity-enhancing technologies such as broadband, given the current economic backdrop.
"Broadband is an indispensable tool for businesses in rural areas, particularly small to medium sized enterprises that depend on a high-speed connection to the rest of the economy," she said.
"I call on the Council to help us ensure that these businesses are not let down, by giving a strong signal in support of broadband for all Europeans."
The Commission also released a document entitled Better Access for Rural Areas to Modern ICT (PDF), outlining the benefits of technologies like the internet for businesses in rural areas.
The European Parliament and the Council are still discussing an EC proposal to make a further €1bn (£895m) available through the European Economic Recovery Plan to provide more widespread broadband access across all regions of Europe.
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