EU agrees to fund free WiFi for European towns with no internet coverage

BRUSSELS, May 29 (Reuters) - European Union institutions agreed on Monday to set aside 120 million euros to provide free wireless internet connections by 2020 to up to 8,000 municipalities in the EU in areas with no internet coverage.

The initiative will be funded from the current 1 trillion-euro EU budget, which runs from 2014 to 2020. Towns will have to apply to get the funds.

The three EU institutions - the council of EU governments, the parliament and the European Commission - decided that funds for the free WiFi initiative will come from a limited review of the seven-year EU budget.

Monday’s political compromise will need to be followed by a technical agreement over how the EU budget’s resources should be used to fund the new project. The EU budget cannot be increased, but funds can be partly shifted. New resources could also come from fines to companies or other one-off revenues. (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, editing by Larry King)