Why would EU sacrifice Internet Freedoms?

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Updated on Sept 21st: The list of MEPs that will be part of the Parliament delegation in the conciliation committee is now official.
Paris, September 21th 2009 – The conciliation of the EU “Telecoms Package”1See our quick guide to conciliation procedure: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/telecoms-package-preparation-for-a-third-reading will begin in a few days. 27 Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the executive branches of the 27 Member States will negotiate the text in closed-doors meetings. The outcome of these discussions will shape the future of Internet users’ freedoms in Europe. EU citizens must ask their representatives to adopt firm positions to protect their citizens’ fundamental rights and defend Net neutrality2To learn about the importance of Net neutrality, read http://www.laquadrature.net/en/it-is-crucial-to-save-net-neutrality and our work-in-progress dossier: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/net_neutrality.

The Conciliation procedure regarding the revision of the five directives included in the “Telecoms Package” will likely begin on September 28th. Yet, one week ahead of the negotiations, the names of the 27 Members of the European Parliament who will be part of the committee are still unknown. Also, the second half of the committe is comprised of representatives from each 27 Member States for the Council of EU. These diplomats from Coreper3http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/coreper_en.htm will defend the positions ordered by the ministers in charge of the Telecom package in their home country.

Both the rapporteur Catherine Trautmann and Åsa Torstensson, the minister in charge from the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council who will lead the negotiations, announced that they wanted to close the negotiations as soon as possible. They also expressed their will to only deal with the contentious “amendment 138”4Amendment to the Framework directive stating “Applying the principle that no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened in which case the ruling may be subsequent.”, and not to discuss Net neutrality, which is very much at risk in the current version of the text. When at the same moment, in the United States, the Obama administration is making a radical move towards protecting Net neutrality5See: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125329467451823485.html, their decision could have disastrous consequences for EU competitivity, innovation and citizens’ freedoms.

More than 50 NGOs from 12 Member States signed the Open Letter “We must protect Net Neutrality in Europe!”6http://www.laquadrature.net/en/we-must-protect-net-neutrality-in-europe-open-letter-to-the-european-parliament in less than a week. EU citizens can act now by inquiring after their ministers in charge7Everyone can participate by filling this list of the ministers and Council representatives: http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Contact_the_E.U_Council on these two specific questions:

  • Why should the EU accept infringement on Net neutrality voted in second reading in the Telecoms Package 8Universal Service directive, article 20.1.b (second paragraph) “information on any other conditions limiting access to and/or use of services and applications,…” and art. 21.3.b “inform subscribers of any change to conditions limiting access to and/or use of services and applications,…” Look at the evolution of Universal Service Directive on http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Telecoms_Package_Diff_Universal_Service_Parliament_First_Reading_Council_Common_Position_Parliament_Second_Reading#Article_20 and how do they intend to correct them?
  • Why should the EU renounce to the protection of EU citizens’ fundamental rights voted twice by the European Parliament in “amendment 138”9Both in First reading, under the influence of the French Presidency, and during the second reading during the Czech Presidency, the Council rejected “amendment 138” without publicly giving any explanation.?

“It is very important for the democratic process to shine light on this disturbingly opaque conciliation negotiation. Together, we can act to make sure that governments and MEPs cannot ignore EU citizens’ fundamental rights, but also make them accountable for the decisions they make. It is crucial for European lawmakers to install a solid protection for Net neutrality.” concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the advocacy citizen group La Quadrature du Net.

References   [ + ]

1. See our quick guide to conciliation procedure: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/telecoms-package-preparation-for-a-third-reading
2. To learn about the importance of Net neutrality, read http://www.laquadrature.net/en/it-is-crucial-to-save-net-neutrality and our work-in-progress dossier: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/net_neutrality
3. http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/coreper_en.htm
4. Amendment to the Framework directive stating “Applying the principle that no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened in which case the ruling may be subsequent.”
5. See: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125329467451823485.html
6. http://www.laquadrature.net/en/we-must-protect-net-neutrality-in-europe-open-letter-to-the-european-parliament
7. Everyone can participate by filling this list of the ministers and Council representatives: http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Contact_the_E.U_Council
8. Universal Service directive, article 20.1.b (second paragraph) “information on any other conditions limiting access to and/or use of services and applications,…” and art. 21.3.b “inform subscribers of any change to conditions limiting access to and/or use of services and applications,…” Look at the evolution of Universal Service Directive on http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Telecoms_Package_Diff_Universal_Service_Parliament_First_Reading_Council_Common_Position_Parliament_Second_Reading#Article_20
9. Both in First reading, under the influence of the French Presidency, and during the second reading during the Czech Presidency, the Council rejected “amendment 138” without publicly giving any explanation.

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