Thursday, May 07, 2009

The European parliament shows backbone, huzzah

Excellent news at the eleventh hour from today'simportant vote on (yes, that again) the Telecoms Package. From EDRI-gram:

"Today, 6 May 2009, in the second reading of the Telecom Package, the
European Parliament (EP) voted again for the initial amendment 138, with an
overwhelming majority of 407 votes for and just 57 against the proposal.
However, on this same occasion, the EP rejected the amendments that
would make "network neutrality" principles mandatory.

Although initially MEP Catherine Trautmann's report included the original
amendment 138/46 as adopted in the first reading by the European Parliament,
after the opaque negotiations with the EU Council from the past 2 weeks
this amendment had been changed in a weaker version. The initial text
"without a prior ruling of the judicial authorities, notably in accordance
with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights" was replaced by "and
the right to a judgement by an independent and impartial tribunal
established by law and acting in respect of due process in accordance with
Article 6 of the ECHR."

Although the new French authority (called Hadopi) that could be established
by the three strikes French draft law can't be considered a "tribunal
established by art 6 of ECHR", the text left room to more fuzzy
interpretations by removing the wording "prior ruling". Thus the compromise
text could be interpreted that such an authority could take a decision of
cutting one's access to Internet, but one would be allowed to go to court to
challenge this decision.

But the EP decided that the initial amendment 138 needed to be supported
once again. The battle was not easy, though. MEP Rebecca Harms insisted in
the plenary for the change in the voting list and for having the original
amendment 138 first . Her position was supported by MEP Alexander Alvaro and
disagreed by the Rapporteur MEP Catherine Trautmann. The Chairwoman Diana
Wallis agreed to go on first with the vote on the Amendment 138. 407 votes
from MEPs supported the amendment, thus saying NO to 3 strikes in Europe.

But besides the amendment that re-instated article 138, all the other
citizen rights amendments were rejected by the plenary of the EP. Thus, the
Harbour report was adopted and the Trautmann report was rejected.

The discussions with the Council will continue and should lead to a third
reading at least for the Trautmann Report. But at the same time, there are
little chances for something to be changed in relation with the articles on
"network neutrality", that would become part of the directive."

It's good to see that all the hard work Simon Bradshaw put into our ORG memorandum on Amendment 139 may not yet have been a waste...

So what happens next? Well, either the Council of Ministers can cede Am 138 in the interests of getting the damn thing through before the next EU presidency; or they can stand fast and push the whole package to Conciliation. reportedly Commissioner Viviane Reding is pushing for the former option as she wants the package done and dusted before her term expires. It's basically down to ministerial poker now :)

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