Amendment 138: The European Parliament must stand up against the Council

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Paris, October 5th 2009 – Negotiations have begun between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on “amendment 138”1am.138 states “the principle that no restriction maybe imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users without a prior ruling of 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.“, which protects citizens against restrictions on their Internet access. The Council wants to neutralize it, but has yet to express publicly what specific parts of the text member States oppose. As the Parliament voted twice for this amendment, by a very strong majority, it must now stand firm and show EU citizens that it is committed to protecting their fundamental rights.

The next steps in the conciliation phase of the EU “Telecoms Package”2Next steps will be a meeting of the Parliament delegation of the conciliation committee on October 7th and an inter-institutional meeting (“trialogue”) on October 13th. might be tense between the European Parliament and the Council of EU. In the last trialogue meeting of September 30th, The Council started the negotiations with a neutralized version of amendment 1383For a detailed analysis of why the Parliament must fight for am.138, see: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/telecoms-package-why-european-parliament-must-fight-for-amendment-138 (the same version that almost got passed in 2nd reading). Yet the Parliament stood strong, asking the Council to explain and justify its opposition to this provision that protects EU citizens’ fundamental rights and which was voted twice by 88% of the votes.

“Positions of both institutions seem irreconcilable. The Council seems to oppose the very idea that restrictions to users’ access to the Internet should be subject to a ‘prior ruling by the judicial authorities’, which is the very core principle of this amendment. It may be that the ministers gathered in the Council have a common agenda about restricting Internet access without judicial rulings? If not, why would they oppose this specific part of amendment 138? European citizens deserve an explanation!” analyzes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

The negotiation team for the Parliament, composed of Catherine Trautmann (S&D, France), Alejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP, Spain), and Herbert Reul (EPP, Germany) will discuss with their colleagues of the Parliament delegation next Wednesday.

“The Parliament is in a strong position. Catherine Trautmann, as the rapporteur, will lead the negotiations with the Council and have the heavy responsibility to safeguard European citizens’ right to a fair trial when their Internet access is subject to restrictions. Everyone in the European Union who cares about the Internet should call Members of the European Parliament, and especially the MEPs of the Conciliation committe4A list of the members of the European Parliament delegation in the Conciliation committee is available, sortable by country, political group, and scores to the previous votes at: http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Telecoms_Package-Conciliation_Committe-Parliament_Delegation#Political_Memory:_MEPs_ranking_by_score, to urge them to encourage Mrs Trautmann to stand strong and not give up.” Concludes Zimmermann.

References   [ + ]

1. am.138 states “the principle that no restriction maybe imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users without a prior ruling of 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.“
2. Next steps will be a meeting of the Parliament delegation of the conciliation committee on October 7th and an inter-institutional meeting (“trialogue”) on October 13th.
3. For a detailed analysis of why the Parliament must fight for am.138, see: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/telecoms-package-why-european-parliament-must-fight-for-amendment-138
4. A list of the members of the European Parliament delegation in the Conciliation committee is available, sortable by country, political group, and scores to the previous votes at: http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Telecoms_Package-Conciliation_Committe-Parliament_Delegation#Political_Memory:_MEPs_ranking_by_score