Assessing fifteen years of State Aid for broadband networks in the European Union: a quantitative analysis, joint with Marc Bourreau and Richard Feasey. (Report on which the paper is based)

In this paper, we examine how public funds, or State Aid, have been used to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in Europe since 2003. Our analysis relies on a unique data set on all the broadband measures notified to the European Commission by Member States between 2003 and 2018. First, we observe some misalignment between the European Union’s broadband ambitions and its current public funding commitments for broadband, which we show are relatively low. Our analysis also highlights that public funds spent in the framework of State Aid strongly support the supply side rather than the demand side, and may be used prematurely before the private sector has had the opportunity to address user demand. Finally, our study sheds light on the scarcity of information regarding broadband State Aid measures. We argue that the collection and diffusion of more detailed information on the outcomes of State Aid projects would allow policymakers and researchers to better assess their performance. This would also allow for greater scrutiny of the use of public funds and help to identify best practices.