€500m in European funding for National Broadband Plan

European Investment Bank announces major financing allocation for State project

The European Investment Bank approved €987 million in funding for nine Irish projects including an allocation of €500 million for the National Broadband Plan

The European Investment Bank approved €987 million in funding for nine Irish projects including an allocation of €500 million for the National Broadband Plan

 

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is to finance the Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) to the tune of €500 million.

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten said the backing of the EIB represented a “ huge vote of confidence” in the plan, which aims to bring State-subsidised broadband to 540,000 rural households and businesses.

The EIB approved €987 million in funding for nine Irish projects including an allocation of €500 million for the NBP.

“It is hugely significant from an Irish and a European perspective as more than half of the total financing approved by the board of EIB relates to Ireland’s National Broadband Plan,” Mr Naughten said.

The Department of Communications said the funds for the NBP could be leveraged by both the public and private sector, suggesting the Government and the sole remaining bidder in the process, Enet, which are expected to split the cost the project, may be able to access them.

Final stages

“The procurement process is now in the final stages and the EIB’s announcement provides a significant endorsement of the NBP. It brings us a step closer to achieving the ultimate goal of the plan and delivering a personal priority for me, which is access for all, regardless of location, to high speed broadband,” Mr Naughten said.

The EIB is mandated to support investments that will progress EU policy goals, including the digital economy.

Former taoiseach Enda Kenny’s former economic adviser Andrew McDowell was appointed as vice-president with the EIB in 2016.

The Government’s broadband scheme, first signalled back in 2011, has been beset with problems and delays due to the complexity of the procurement process and difficulties pinning down the exact number of premises to be covered.

Work was to have started at the beginning of this year but has now been put back to 2019. The procurement process was rocked earlier this year by Eir’s departure, which left just one remaining bidder in the process, Enet.