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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
News article15 June 2015Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

High-speed Internet network for research cooperation in the Eastern Partnership countries announced

EU awards 13 M Euro to EaPConnect project to enable researchers and students in the European Union’s Eastern Neighbourhood to fully participate in the digital economy.

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EU awards 13 M Euro to EaPConnect project to enable researchers and students in the European Union’s Eastern Neighbourhood to fully participate in the digital economy.

11h June 2013, Luxembourg: The European Commission has signed today a 13m Euro contract with networking organisation GÉANT to expand connectivity in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. The project aims at creating a regional high-speed Internet network dedicated to research and education (R&E) across Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It will interconnect the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in the EaP partner countries and integrate them in the pan-European GÉANT network.

A high-speed regional network of optical fibres will be established and access to scientific databases will be ensured to students and researchers. Increased coverage of wifi access for students and researchers in the region at campus and institution level will also be promoted. Two million scientists, academics and students at over 700 institutions across the region are expected to benefit from this connectivity boost.

At the Eastern Partnership Vilnius Summit in 2013 the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States and the six EaP countries had encouraged the setting up of a Common Knowledge and Innovation Space. At the recent Summit in Riga on 22 May they also recognised the digital economy as an area with yet untapped potential for both the EU and the partners. EaPConnect will provide a regional gateway to the R&E community to pursue these goals.

“The EU has a vision for global collaboration to bridge the digital divide,” said Gerhard Schumann-Hitzler, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargements Negotiations (DG NEAR). “The EaPConnect project is a central part of this strategy which is fully shared by partner countries. It reflects our joint will to increase collaboration in the field of research and education in view of closer links between people and businesses.’’

“Today’s research community needs to be truly global if it is to solve the challenges humanity faces”, said Pierre Bruyère, Chairman of GÉANT Board of Directors. “The creation of the EaPConnect network is a natural progression into fostering worldwide collaboration in research and education.”

By enabling fast and reliable exchange of high volumes of data between scientists in the EaP countries and their peers in Europe and further afield, EaPConnect will facilitate collaborative research in areas such as environmental monitoring, telemedicine, life sciences and physics. In addition, stable videoconferencing will support e-learning initiatives or simply enable artists, thousands of miles apart, to perform together in near-real time.

EaPConnect is expected to run for 5 years and will be managed by networking organisation GÉANT in collaboration with the NRENs in the six partner countries. The European Commission provides 95% of the project costs. The remaining 5% will be raised by GÉANT from the EaP countries.

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