Access to broadband networks has a significant economic impact. They make access to education, public services and health easier, and help citizens in remote areas to take an active part in social and democratic life.
However, peripheral areas all too often remain cut off from access, in spite of the best efforts of regional and local authorities to encourage its introduction.
The conference, which is to be attended by the Irish Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Dermot Ahern, is being organised jointly by the Committee of the Regions' Commission for Culture and Education and the South West Regional Authority on 5 and 6 April in Killarney, Ireland.
The two-day conference will provide an opportunity to exchange good practice, establish partnerships between European regions and help formulate future European policy on broadband access, paving the way for implementation of the Lisbon strategy.
The South West Regional Authority is ideally placed to host the conference, being one of the twenty-two European "pilot regions" designated in 1995 by the European Commission under the Regional Information Society Initiative (RISI).
The conference, to be opened by Annette McNamara, Chair of the CoR's Commission for Culture and Education, will bring together some 300 delegates, including Michel G. Tutty, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, Councillor P. J. Hourican, Chairman of the South West Regional Authority, Ireland, Claudio Mastracci, Director of Applications, European Space Agency, and Fulvio Sansone, Secretary-General of the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA).
Date: 5 April (1.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and 6 April (9 a.m. to 3.40 p.m.)
Place: Great Southern Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry, Ireland
Press conference: Monday, 5 April at 2 p.m.
Contact: Sinéad Byrne +353 (0) 21 4878174
Programme and registration: http://www.swra.ie/broadband/
Committee of the Regions website: http://www.cor.eu.int
Set up in 1994 under the Treaty of Maastricht, the Committee of the Regions has 222 members, representing elected local or regional authorities, with the task of giving a voice to these authorities in the EU's legislative process.
The Lisbon Strategy, unveiled by the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, aims to make the EU the world's most competitive and dynamic economy. A stronger economy should stimulate job creation and foster social and environmental policies ensuring sustainable development and social cohesion.
The purpose of the Regional Information Society Initiative (RISI) is to mainstream the information society concept in regional and local development and employment policies of the EU's most disadvantaged regions.