By Laura Pérez-Cejuela
Brussels, Apr 21 (EFE).- Connecting Europe’s rural areas with high-speed internet is vital to preventing depopulation and creating employment, the vice-president of the European Commission, Dubravka Šuica, has said.
Šuica, who is also the commissioner for democracy and demography, highlighted the fact that one in four Europeans lives in a rural area of the continent.
“Now during the pandemic, we realized that it wasn’t important where do we live, but how are we connected,” the Croatian politician told Efe in an interview.
To this end, the European Commission is aiming to connect “each and every village” in Europe to high-speed internet before its current mandate is over in 2024 to “create new jobs, to create an environment for young people, for young families to stay there or to attract them to come there.”
“Because, as you see, nowadays, everything is better in the countryside. Life is better, the virus was spreading less. So everything was better. But we had to have services and infrastructure. When I say infrastructures, it’s not only roads and motorways, but it’s digital,” she adds.
“We are working on a long-term vision for rural areas, it is a very important part of my job nowadays, it will be out by the end of June.
“Half of European territory is covered by rural areas and if 100 million people live in these rural areas, then this is a very important part of Europe and we are working for that,” Šuica said.
The European Union as a whole has a population of some 447 million people.
She added: “We will come out with the flagship initiatives because we talk about the rural strategy in general, but you create a strategy for different regions because different regions have different interests.