Franz Nahrada /
Beitrag Breitbandkonferenz Bruessel







Die Einladung / The Invitation

Dear Mr. Nahrada,

The European Commission is organising the conference "Bridging the Broadband Gap: Benefits of broadband for rural areas and less developed regions", which will take place on 14th and 15th of May 2007 in Brussels, Belgium. The event will investigate how increasing access to affordable broadband services and the strategic use of ICT can support regional and local development, ease infrastructure and geographical handicaps and make these areas more attractive to business and individuals alike.

The European Commission would like to invite you to address the plenary "Connecting Europe: challenges ahead for territorial cohesion and rural development" on May 14 and make a presentation on A radical vision of the European advantage: villages and small towns.

The event, which foresees the participation of Commissioners Reding (Information Society & Media), Fischer Boels (Agriculture and Rural Development), Hübner (Regional Policy) and Kroes (Competition) represents a unique opportunity to bring together for the first time very different communities from different background and areas of responsibility. Its aim is to increase the synergy among the policy domains of information society, regional policy, rural development and state aid legislation, and to initiate a process of exchange of good practices from across the EU.

Next to the Conference sessions, the event incorporates an exhibition of broadband projects that constitute good practice. Selection of the projects is taking place through a call for broadband projects currently open at our website: http://europa.eu.int/information_society/events/broadband_gap_2007/index_en.htm . Projects taking part to the exhibition will be evaluated by the conference participants. The first three projects with the highest score will be announced at the conference as the best European broadband projects for 2007...only projects that have been financed either through full public funding or public-private partnerships (PPPs) will be considered..

Rahmen / Modalities

  • Each speaker is invited to make a presentation of a maximum of 10 minutes. There will also be an opportunity for further interventions during the Q&A component of the session.
  • The conference is to be chaired by a Brussels journalist, Peter O'Donnell , who will introduce all speakers as well as moderating the plenary sessions.
Abstract Contribution Franz Nahrada

1. The proposition of this speech is that the European natural and cultural heritage consisting of landscapes, villages and small towns is the main factor that puts Europe in the most favorable position among all continents.

2. The beauty and sustainability of this European advantage is rooted in 2 main factors:

  • the fractality in which urban functions have been miniaturized and adopted to the size and the specifics of the remotest regions, maintaining a continuum and equilibrum between the urban and the rural.
  • the vitality in which human settlement patterns have made use of and were embedded in an intensive dialogue with nature.
3. The industrial revolution has to a certain extent disrupted, but also intensified the relation between the urban and the rural. It brought about heavy urbanisation, but it also created homogeneous infrastructures and improved means of communication. The city seemed to be the eventual winner in the race of competition for people and resources, rural areas seemed to become agonized and in need to be subsidized. This was true until recently things changed dramatically when we saw the emergence of successful rural regions and at the same time regions of industrial decline.

4. Major technological, economical and political trends are not only the roots but continue to support those new developments. The rural systems of fractal relations between landscapes, villages and small towns is apt to assimilate the imminent changes in the best possible way:

  • The shift towards renewable resources.
  • The shift towards miniaturized and much more intelligent (= multipurpose) systems of production.
  • The emergence of dedicated local economic systems balancing the limits of competition.
  • The increased potentials of global cooperation, like the Open Source movement.
  • A new focus on health and quality of life.
  • A new focus on values and cultural creativity at least in some segments of the population calling for manifestation.
5. So the scene is set for a broadband strategy that links to the systemic potential of the areas it connects, rather then seeing it just as an ultrafast stream of bits. We need to think about
  • reinventing the rural habitat (= the village, the small town and its hinterland) so it can facilitate people with urban needs and skills and fulfill the promise of the changes mentioned before.
  • starting an education revolution around local education providers (= places of access, encounter and learning) backed up by networks of knowledge and information provision, due to the fact that the new technological and economical guidelines require much more knowledge and insight than any previous system.
  • Understand the fundamental differences between rural and urban areas in terns of competition versus co-operation. In rural areas, a few people are charged with many assigments, and the quality of their services is depending on the degree of cooperation between them.
Examples will be given as time allows.


See the /Presentation