Net Neutrality Resolution Adopted in EU Parliament

Paris, October 20th, 2011 — The “Industry” Committee of the EU Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on Net neutrality. Through this vote asking the European Commission to promptly assess the need for further legislative action, the Parliament is taking a strong stance in favour of Net neutrality. Pressure now increases on EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who may soon be forced to break away with her failed “wait and see” approach and take action.

The resolution unanimously adopted by the Industry (ITRE) committee of the EU Parliament, which has been fiercely negotiated1, is overall a positive text. It commits the EU Parliament to key issues:

  • The text is a strong political statement in favour of Net neutrality. It brings a useful definition of Net neutrality and of the network management policies that are detrimental to the users' freedoms and to competition2.
  • The resolution asks the Commission to move past its failed “wait-and-see” approach by assessing the need for further regulation on Net neutrality, within 6 months of EU telecoms regulators (BEREC) releasing their study on the discriminatory practices of ISPs3.

However, the resolution falls short of asking for immediate legislative action to protect Net neutrality and for sanctions against Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who restrict access to the Internet. It also includes a loophole4, which risks being interpreted as accepting such restrictions on mobile Internet on the pretext of alleged network congestion5.

“While rather weak, the adopted resolution is a political commitment from the European Parliament in favour of Net neutrality, and aims to prevent telecom operators from restricting Internet access. Pressure is increasing on Commissioner Neelie Kroes and the EU telecoms regulators to come up with further legislation. Mrs Kroes must break away from her 'wait and see' approach and take action to effectively protect competition, innovation as well as citizens' freedom of expression and privacy online.", says Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.

The text adopted today in the ITRE committee vote will now move to be adopted in plenary without the possibility of further amendments, in a vote scheduled for late-November.

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