His preference is to use financial instruments to leverage private money from EU funding, which could subsidise loans for farmers and local businesses.
The Commission's recent paper on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy namechecks the smart village idea, and is set to require national authorities to come up with digitisation strategies as part of their CAP plans, which would then need to be approved by the Commission.
The EU's rural development budget can also help.
Because success begins and ends with a fast internet connection, programmes like the bloc's €10bn LEADER programme are also useful for funding smart villages.
Only 40pc of rural EU households currently have access to high-speed broadband, compared to 76pc of urban households, the European Commission says.
The English village of Alston Moor set up a community-owned broadband service, Cybermoor, in 2002, after it was passed over by larger service providers. The movement has spread, and the village now has a community-owned bakery, gym and many other businesses.
Providing education and medical services to cut-off regions is also a priority. City dwellers are almost twice as likely to have third-level qualifications as their rural counterparts, and are much more likely to have better access to healthcare.
An Italian government strategy to revitalise remote inland villages has helped to fund a community car-pooling app, virtual classrooms and online medical checks in local pharmacies.
While most Europeans live in cities, Irish people tend to do the opposite, with over 40pc of people living in the countryside (compared to an EU average of under 30pc).
The EU is already looking to the success story of Skibbereen in West Cork, where the Ludgate digital hub provides superfast broadband, video conferencing and desk sharing for local entrepreneurs and freelancers.
EU officials also point to Lapland's "smart Arctic" network, which is connecting remote northern Finnish food producers with consumers halfway across the world.
The Commission sees smart villages as climate pioneers. Cloughjordan ecovillage in Tipperary, set up on a 27-hectare farm in 1999, now has 50 families living in low-energy homes, growing their own food in allotments, and has a carbon footprint that is less than half the Irish national average.
And in Denmark, 70-80pc of wind turbines are community-owned, while in Sweden, close to 50pc of local fibre-optic networks are owned by municipalities or community-run enterprises.
But farmers must be at the heart of smart villages, says Alan Jagoe, a Cork farmer who was also head of Macra Na Feirme and the European Council of Young Farmers.
"There needs to be a strong agricultural sector to make sure people are in villages to begin with," says Mr Jagoe.
"If you can ensure farming is profitable and sustainable, then people will stay in rural areas. And so many people are now choosing to move out of cities and move to rural areas. If we don't have basic services, they won't come."
Farmers need broadband to do everything from banking to precision farming, Mr Jagoe argues.
Moo monitors - sensors that use heat to optimise when to feed, milk, breed and medicate herds - are one of the innovations Jagoe has recently installed on his Carrigaline farm.
"If you said this to my dad 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, he wouldn't have believed it," he said. "Smart farming has changed the way we farm today."
For Stories Like This and More
Download the FarmIreland App