Net Neutrality Has No Future Without a Strong And Independent Supervision

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27 April 2018 – La Quadrature du Net signs with other European organizations a letter to Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to ask them to stand for strong, independent regulatory authorities. During the non-transparent trilogue1Negotiations behind closed doors carried on by delegates of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. that took place on Wednesday on the European electronic communications code, the Member States and some MEPs agreed on an article that could create ambiguities on the competences of the national regulatory authorities (NRAs), enabling other national authorities such as Governments to enforce Net neutrality rules.2The new draft is: “Under the scope of this Directive the national regulatory authority shall be responsible at least for the following tasks: (…) Assessing and monitoring closely market shaping and competition issues regarding open Internet access”. The lack of independence of the authorities that enforce, monitor and assess Net neutrality regulation3Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 laying down measures concerning open internet access will inevitably lower efficiency of the implementation and favour economic interests of oligopolistics telecom industries.

Dear Ms. Del Castillo,

We, the undersigned organisations, are writing to you to express our profound concern about the way that the currently proposed trilogue agreement on Article 5 of the Electronic Communications Code would weaken the role of independent telecommunications regulatory authorities in Europe.

In particular, we are alarmed that the European Parliament delegation appears not to be strongly defending the Parliament’s mandate. The Parliament’s position is quite clear that NRAs should be responsible for “ensuring compliance with rules related to open internet access in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2015/2120” and for “ensuring consumer protection and end-user rights in the electronic communications sector within the remit of their competences under the sectorial regulation, and cooperating with relevant competent authorities wherever applicable”. Any change to this approach can only serve to
create legal uncertainty and the weakened enforcement of the Regulation previously approved by the Parliament.

It is entirely unacceptable for the Council to try to undermine an absolutely fundamental element of ensuring a competitive, innovative and open electronic communications market. Caving in to the demands of the Council, driven by a very small number of Member States, will risk:

  • undermining the crucial independence of NRAs;
  • moving us towards a situation more similar to the United States, which facilitated short-sighted political decisions on net neutrality that undermined crucial independent, evidence- and expert- driven policies supporting the open Internet;
  • undermining coherent and coordinated enforcement of the rules outlined in Regulation (EU) 2015/2120.

According to Article 5(1) of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120, National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) are the competent authorities to enforce open internet rules. Article 5(4) of this Regulation provides for the possibility for NRAs to conduct additional tasks. The European Electronic Communications Code must not – and cannot – contravene this Regulation, which is directly applicable. We urge the European Parliament to ensure that the European Electronic Communications Code clearly reaffirms the role of NRAs and BEREC in ensuring that the net neutrality rules are enforced efficiently and consistently.

We remain at your disposal for any further information.

We thank you for your time and consideration.
Kind regards,

  • European Digital Rights (EDRi), a coalition of 39 civil and human rights organisations
  • Access Now, International NGO, member of EDRi
  • AFUL, French speaking users of Libre and Free Software NGO
  • Alsace Réseau Neutre, French local non-profit Internet Access & Service Provider
  • Aquilenet, French local non-profit Internet Access & Service Provider
  • epicenter.works, member of EDRi
  • FAImaison, non-profit Internet Service & Access Provider based in Nantes, France
  • Fédération FDN, federation of local & non-profit ISPs
  • FFII France, a French NGO fighting against software patents
  • Franciliens.net, French local non-profit Internet Access & Service Provider
  • Frënn vun der Ënn, Luxembourg, NGO, defending privacy and human rights on the internet
  • Grifon, French local non-profit Internet Access & Service Provider
  • Ilico, French local non-profit Internet Service Provider
  • Illyse, French local non-profit Internet Access Provider
  • La Quadrature du Net, French NGO defending rights and freedom on the Internet
  • Midway’s Network, French local non-profit internet service provider based in Belfort
  • Igwan.net, Local non-profit Internet Service Provider based in the French Caribbean

References   [ + ]

1. Negotiations behind closed doors carried on by delegates of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union.
2. The new draft is: “Under the scope of this Directive the national regulatory authority shall be responsible at least for the following tasks: (…) Assessing and monitoring closely market shaping and competition issues regarding open Internet access”.
3. Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 laying down measures concerning open internet access

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