Brussels – For the last two months, the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, and representatives of the EU member states (Council) have gathered almost every week to try to strike a deal on the Telecoms Single Market (TSM). This is a piece of legislation that could deliver Net Neutrality to EU citizens, but that will happen only if the Parliament stands firm in its support of this principle according to which all data should be treated equally, not discriminating among users, websites, or services.
So far, the so-called “trialogue” discussions on the issue have stalled, since the EU member states have either refused to discuss Net Neutrality or have advanced proposals with one clear objective: to kill Net Neutrality by allowing as much discrimination on the network as possible.
“The Council’s behaviour is frankly unbelievable,” said Raegan MacDonald, European Policy Manager at Access. “The big question now is: Will the Parliament allow itself to be manipulated by the Council, despite the fact that it has been standing up for Net Neutrality for nearly five years straight?”
Until now, the EU Parliament, historically pro-Net Neutrality, has held firm in its position. However, as pressure from the states intensifies, some members of the Parliament have begun to consider a worrying trade-off: reducing roaming charges in exchange for undermining Net Neutrality. Here’s a timeline showing how the issue of Net Neutrality has developed in the EU:
- November 17, 2011: EU Parliament calls for Net Neutrality
- October 26, 2012: EU Parliament calls for Net Neutrality
- December 11, 2012: EU Parliament calls for Net Neutrality
- November 27, 2014: EU Parliament calls for Net Neutrality
- September 1, 2013: EU Commission introduces proposal on TSM. The text undermines Net Neutrality and promises to limit “roaming” costs.
- April 3, 2014: EU Parliament votes on TSM. The text includes strong and binding rules on Net Neutrality and foresees the end of roaming by July 2015.
- March 4, 2015: EU member states agree on joint position on TSM. The text kills Net Neutrality and ensures the continuity of roaming charges under another name.
- May 2015: EU Parliament could kill Net Neutrality to get a deal that might end “roaming” charges by July 2017
“If the EU Parliament were to accept the text that is on the table right now, it could be the end of the internet as we know it,” added Raegan MacDonald. “After all these years, and the many votes calling for Net Neutrality, the EU Parliament must stay strong and uphold the promise they have made to EU citizens.”