EU funded wifi hotspots – wasted money that could be better spent on important infrastructure

Sep 12, 2017


The European Parliament gave the green light this afternoon to waste 120 million euros of taxpayers’ money to provide up to 8,000 “free” Wi-Fi stations across the EU. Flemish MEP Anneleen Van Bossuyt, chair of the parliament’s internal market committee and who followed the proposals for the ECR Group, has continually opposed the new scheme that amounts to nothing more than a vanity project from the European Commission that will cost taxpayers millions.

Speaking after the vote, Van Bossuyt said:

“Member States have to live within their means but the EU happily continues to offer bribes to citizens for popularity by providing services that people don’t actually need. Free rail passes, free Wi-Fi, free museums – does anyone really believe that this is free? Taxpayers are footing the bill.”

“It is not up to Europe to install free Wi-Fi in municipalities that could easily do it themselves. Only cities and municipalities that do not currently offer Wi-Fi are able to claim this money. This is simply unfair on the proactive authorities who have already invested their own money to provide Wi-Fi to their residents and tourists.

The new scheme, drafted by the commission without an impact assessment, will require municipalities to pay for the running costs of the hot spots once the equipment is installed.

Van Bossuyt continued: “While municipalities have to pay the running costs themselves they are prohibited from imposing restrictions on usage, both in terms of consumption and content. For example, taxpayers’ money can be used to spend hours downloading movies or browsing pornographic websites. This is completely irresponsible and impossible to justify.

“If Europe really wants to expand the digital economy, it needs to invest in high-speed internet and 5G, not in wasteful attempts at self-promotion.”