Last Chance for MEPs to Save Net Neutrality?
Paris, 26 May 2015 — The negotiations on Net Neutrality comes to the end in June with next and probably final trialogue expected on 2nd of June. Until now, the different documents received from the negotiations1 have shown a very weak position of the Members of European Parliament (MEPs), abandoning the improvement on Net Neutrality that had been brought by the previous legislature. If the MEPs do not take this last chance to save Net Neutrality, it would have a critical impact on the way Internet is functioning, on the citizens' fundamental rights and on further regulations adopted within the so-called Digital Single Market.
Is the European Parliament about to lose its edge in defending Net Neutrality in Europe? Will it bend to the pressure of Big Telco, while in the US progress is being made?
The last two months, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union (Member States) met regularly to try to get an agreement on the regulation on telecommunications. Despite many warnings and calls from La Quadrature du Net and other citizens organisations to save the Internet through strong Net Neutrality definition and several provisions to protect users from discrimination, European Institutions focused on roaming, a more marketable and consensual part of the regulation.
Indeed, an agreement on roaming would lower data and telephone costs for those traveling across borders within the EU. It would thus mainly benefit to Eurocrats and border residents. But Net neutrality is more than just a mere consumer issue, and brings much greater benefits than low roaming fees. Indeed, by ensuring a neutral, non discriminatory and transparent access to Internet to all, Net Neutrality serves human rights and innovation, citizens and SMEs. It cannot be bargained. Abandoning Net Neutrality for such a cosmetic agreement as roaming would be blow to fundamental rights.
The 8 MEPs2 currently involved in the trialogue negotiations must absolutely respect the commitment of the European Parliament. The rapporteur Pilar del Castillo had been outvoted last year when she took position against Net Neutrality. Now, MEPs cannot just cowardly hide behind an obscure trialogue negotiation to give up our rights. They would be responsible of the disastrous impacts that a non neutral Internet would have, allowing discrimination and playing into the hands of big economic operators.
A real Net neutrality legislation is all the more important considering that the Internet was recently enshrined as “common goods” by the FCC, the US regulator of media and telecommunications which just a few weeks ago passed an order protecting Net neutrality. The risk for the EU to lag behind the US and to forfeit its human rights values.
La Quadrature du Net urges citizens from all the European Union to call the 8 MEPs through the ongoing Piphone campaign to ask them to save the Internet. We all need to mobilize before the next and maybe last trialogue that will take place on June 2nd.
- 1. Last week's leak, and German and British (and Spanish) positions from December 2014
- 2. Pilar del Castillo (ES - EPP), Marisa Matias (PT - GUE/NGL), Michel Reimon (AU - Greens/EFA), Patrizjia Toia (IT - S&D), Dario Tamburrano (IT - EFDD), Jens Rohde (DK - ALDE), Vicky Ford (UK - ECR), Petra Kammerevert (DE - S&D).