The European Union has been negotiating the Telecoms Single Market — legislation that will determine whether Net Neutrality will become a reality throughout Europe — since September 2013. There has been a lot of debate in Brussels, and the EU Parliament, Commission, and Council of the EU have all considered the draft regulation. But one thing has remained clear — European internet users strongly support Net Neutrality and want the EU to pass the strongest rules possible.
Last week, the Council of the EU, which represents 28 member countries, agreed on a draft version of the legislation that would actually undermine the principle of Net Neutrality, allowing, among other things, paid prioritization schemes such as so-called “zero rating.” You can read our analysis of this text in our blog post here.
This doesn’t mean the fight for Net Neutrality is over — far from it! The text agreed upon by the Council is not final and has to be reviewed jointly with the European Parliament, which has been a strong proponent for Net Neutrality. Now more than ever, the Parliament must hold strong during negotiations to fix the loopholes introduced by the Council, and to deliver its promise to support Net Neutrality. You can find a timeline and explanation of the process for the upcoming negotiations here.
Meanwhile, as discussions of the Telecoms Single Market text were taking place, the EU Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society, Günther Oettinger, compared the internet advocacy community and the Pirate Party (which has been mobilizing for Net Neutrality) to the Taliban:
Net Neutrality. Here again we’ve got Taliban-like developments. There we have the internet community, the Pirates on the move. It’s all about perfect uniformity.
Sadly, such misleading and downright confusing remarks are all that European opponents of Net Neutrality have left. Oettinger ignored and insulted the efforts by numerous governments around the world to promote Net Neutrality. Given that lawmakers in the Netherlands, Slovenia, the U.S., Chile, Canada, and the European Parliament itself have all either adopted or voted in favor of Net Neutrality, does Commissioner Oettinger also consider them to be like the Taliban?
Today, a representative of the Pirate Party formally asked the European Commission to clarify Oettinger’s statement. We’ll keep you updated on the official response of the Commission. In the meantime, the fight for Net Neutrality in the EU continues. You can take action now. Contact your representatives in the European Parliament and your government to demand real Net Neutrality protection!