On 20 June 2011, the Atlantic Digital Network (ADN) – the NGO cluster of The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, sent to the European Commission an open letter, calling on the European Union to become a “WiFi paradise”. The letter was signed by Dr. Solomon Passy, president of the Atlantic Club, and his wife Gergana Passy, president of PanEuropa Bulgaria and then EU Minister. In their letter, the Passy stated: “Access to the Internet should be regarded as the newest, fifth freedom of the EU, alongside the free movement of goods, capitals, services and people” and as “one of the basic human rights” of our time.
Six years after Dr. Solomon and Gergana Passy’s letter and their pilot article in the 24 Hours daily, launching the project for universal WiFi Internet access at EU public areas, this Bulgarian project turns into a European decision. On 29 May 2017, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached an agreement on the funding and realization of the #WiFi4EU policy, with an initial budget of €120 million, which was to be granted to 6 – 8000 municipalities from all Member States. The local authorities willing to provide Wi-Fi in areas where a similar public or private offer does not yet exist are able to apply for funding via a simple and non-bureaucratic process.
On the occasion of #WiFi4EU, the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova made the following statement: “I welcome this initiative as major step forward to increase digital access to all women and men across Europe. This is especially important to bridge digital divides, for women and in rural areas, and to ensure the digital revolution is a development revolution for all.”
The previous initiative of the Passy’s team – the USB standardized mobile phone charger in the EU – was carried out between 2008 and 2014, for which Gergana Passy was awarded the Légion d’Honneur from the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, and was elected a National Digital Champion. She and Solomon, with the efforts of their inspiring Atlantic Digital Network team, carried out several pioneering Free WiFi actions, which demonstrated the efficiency of this policy.
Regarding #WiFi4EU, Solomon and Gergana stated: “We are satisfied that Bulgaria once again generated a progressive European digital policy and that a united EU is more efficient than states and governments alone. #WiFi4EU will draw the peripheral municipalities nearer to the capitals, will boost social inclusion and through technology will consolidate Europe. We are optimists about synergy on this project with the future Bulgarian EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, who, with the digital portfolio may develop #WiFi4EU on a pan European scale. We believe that this project has a global potential, to be taken forward across the world, as highlighted by the Director-General of UNESCO.“