Net Neutrality: EU Member States Refuse to Hear the Voice of Citizens

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Paris, 3 June 2015 — The Council of the European Union has been blocking for weeks the principle of Net Neutrality and its entrenching in the legislation. As the European Parliament refuses for now to give in to pressure from Member States and the powerful telecom lobbies, the negotiations held last night, which brought together delegations from the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, were therefore unsuccessful. The EU Parliament must keep on refusing any agreement that would undermine a thorough protection of the Net neutrality principle.

The trialogue of June, the 2nd trialogue so far, was supposed to be the last one in order to come to an agreement on the EU regulation on telecommunications. The negotiations are now particularly difficult since it became clear that the EU Council – composed of EU Member States – did not want to enshrine the principle of Net Neutrality into law, unlike the last American developments. The US regulator (FCC) decided earlier this year to enshrine the Internet as a “common good” and as milestone for the consideration of the fundamental freedoms of citizens.

Net Neutrality ensures access for all to a neutral, open and non-discriminatory Internet, guarantees freedom of speech and information, reducing the risks of censorship and surveillance. It does not allow tariff discrimination, traffic management measures that give preferential treatment to some websites or online services over others due to commercial agreements, and thus wards off interference with fair competition and innovation. The European Parliament has held so far its position from April 2014 on preservation of freedom and non-discrimination and stood up firmly not to sell out the fundamental rights of citizens to an Internet free of discriminations.

Net Neutrality

It is not acceptable that the Council of the European Union uses the principle of Net Neutrality as a bargaining chip to reach an agreement on the abolition of roaming. It is not acceptable that the EU Council despises rights and freedoms of European citizens in order to once again serve the short-term business interests of big telecom corporations. It is not acceptable that the European Commission does not openly support a principle that would anchor fundamental rights in EU law.

The negotiations should keep going under the Luxembourg Presidency in the coming months. No acceptable agreement will be possible while the Council refuses to understand where the general interest lies.

La Quadrature du Net calls on the European Parliament to courageously continue its fight for the freedoms and rights of citizens, despite some MEPs’ attempts to kill Net Neutrality and play into the hands of telcos.

La Quadrature du Net calls on the European Commission to play its role as the guardian of the EU values. A strong European Union can not be done on the backs of citizens.

La Quadrature du Net calls on the Council to be realistic and not to undermine the work of the European Parliament in order to please lobbies by pushing for further deregulation, as this would let them with a clear field to share the powers between them.

“The current deadlock is the proof of a blatant lack of realism from the EU Council in this negotiation, and reveals the directions taken by some national governments to disregard their citizens’ rights: mass surveillance, limitations to the access of culture, etc. It’s time for the Member States to put their act together and for the citizens to go into action to protect their rights and freedoms. This starts with the protection of the fundamental principle of Net Neutrality” expresses Agnès de Cornulier, legal and policy analyst coordinator for La Quadrature du Net.