One more week to save net neutrality in Europe!

In September 2013, the European Commission presented its proposed regulation for a single market for electronic communications (see Access’s analysis here). The Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee is the lead committee for this proposal and will provide its final report on February 24, before the legislative proposal is voted on by the full European Parliament in early April 2014.

The Regulation in the European Parliament

The Regulation sets to establish a Telecom Single Market in through wide-ranging legislative text regulating roaming, spectrum management and net neutrality. However, despite Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes’ promise to protect net neutrality by law, the current proposal fails to ensure an open internet. Access previously pointed out the risks this proposal holds for growth and innovation in the telecom sector across Europe.

Since the original text was presented in parliament, four committees proposed modifications to the text: the Culture and Education Committee (CULT), the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) and the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE). The inputs from those four committees, are meant to advise the lead ITRE committee’s decision before voting on the final report on February 24.

Pilar del Castillo’s lead

While these four votes have been broadly supportive of net neutrality – ensuring consumers’ rights and protecting their access to an open internet – the text currently discussed in the ITRE Committee still raises serious concerns. The draft report presented in December 2013 by the lead member for this file, Pilar del Castillo Vera, introduces provisions that weaken users’ rights and empower telecommunications companies to engage in online discrimination.

Since December, diverse political parties introduced a large number of amendments improving the original proposal. Access, together with EDRi, reviewed all the amendments, opinions and reports published on the single market for electronic communications Regulation. The negotiations conducted last week by Ms. Castillo have shown some progress towards agreement on provisions making net neutrality law and ending network discrimination in Europe.

Next steps

The text proposed by Pilar del Castillo Vera will be put to vote in the ITRE Committee on February 24. Access, together with a coalition of NGOs across Europe, launched a campaign to provide a platform where Europeans can learn about the importance of net neutrality, the current proposal and most importantly, ways they can voice their desire for an open internet to Members of the European Parliament. This site is now available in nine languages and allow concerned netizens to call, email or fax their MEPs.  

We have one week to save the internet in Europe! Visit savetheinternet.eu to learn more and take action!