A EURACTIV – GIGAEurope Digital Debate

Gigabit Infrastructure Act: A Global Leadership Opportunity for the EU?

20 September 2023 

10:00-11:30 CET

This virtual gathering was an opportunity to evaluate a barrier to Europe’s successful digital transition. The recent package of EU connectivity initiatives, notably the Gigabit Infrastructure Act, can give European connectivity policy frameworks the makeover that they need and usher in the quality of services that people deserve.

The European Commission’s 2030 Digital Decade Targets illustrate how a successful digital transition can improve the quality of life in Europe. Still, if over 90% of European SMEs are to have basic levels of digital intensity, 75% of EU companies are to use cloud computing services, big data, and artificial intelligence, and all citizens are to have access to public services and medical records electronically by 2030, then Europe needs to roll out the required connectivity infrastructure at pace. The EU digital innovation community can prosper to help maintain global competitiveness, if there are very high-capacity networks (VHCN) to test applications, maintain performance, and bring their products and services to the market.

Europe can effect successful digital and green transitions with connectivity infrastructure built for the future. Member States can do this at pace by reducing the time and cost of rolling out VHCN infrastructure and maintaining a policy environment that attracts private investment.

During a recent GIGAEurope stakeholder forum, The Future of Connectivity and Our New Internet Ecosystem, the European Commission cited estimates that there is an investment gap of over 174 billion euros. The telecommunications industry remains committed to doing its part. The Gigabit Infrastructure Act can be an important part of the framework Europe needs. With its rapid adoption and efforts to preserve national best practices, operators can have greater clarity and more timely access to publicly-owned network and non-network facilities, including rooftops or street furniture which are increasingly important for 5G. The cost of construction can become more equitable among operators. Also, tacit approvals, in circumstances when the approval process exceeds a pre-determined amount of time, can reduce unnecessary obstacles.

Just as digitalisation can benefit citizens, digitised platforms can streamline administrative processes, such as securing building permits and rights of way for connectivity providers.  Still, there are other challenges that hinder the ability to truly achieve Europe’s objectives and realise the EU’s aspirations.

  • To what extent can the EU ensure that the legislation is harmonised while preserving existing best practices?
  • What steps can policymakers take to safeguard the principle of technology neutrality in the Regulation?
  • How can the EU and Member States strike the right balance between encouraging private investment and leveraging public funding or State aid?

Policymakers and industry representatives discussed the foundation that supports Europe’s digital ecosystem.


Kamila Kloc, Director of Digital Decade & Connectivity in Directorate B, DG CONNECT, European Commission

Alin Mituța MEP, Rapporteur for the Gigabit Infrastructure Act

Emilio Davila, Digital Transformation Seconded Expert responsible for the GIA, Permanent Representation of Spain to the European Union

Mieke de Regt, Counsellor for Digital Policy, Telecoms & Postal Services, Permanent Representation of Belgium to the European Union

Professor Konstantinos Masselos, Chair 2023 and President of the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission, BEREC

Leo-Geert van den Berg, Interim CTO – Executive Director Technology, VodafoneZiggo

This event was moderated by Jennifer Baker, EURACTIV Journalist