UPDATE: Late in the evening on Monday, June 29, three EU government institutions struck an agreement on the Telecoms Single Market Regulation. The current text both protects and undermines Net Neutrality. On the positive side, all provisions on parental control and filters have been removed from the text. Provisions to protect access to the internet remain in place, but the text also allows for the establishment of slow lanes and fast lanes.
This ambiguity creates legal uncertainty that would require a court or country-level regulatory authorities to decide whether Net Neutrality or the establishment of fast lanes prevails.
But it’s not too late! Net Neutrality is still possible in Europe and we’ll be sharing ways about how you can take action. You can also read our statement here.
On Monday, June 29, three EU government institutions will be meeting to strike an agreement on the Telecoms Single Market Regulation (TSM). This piece of draft legislation, introduced in 2013, has the potential to enshrine Net Neutrality into EU law. But recent developments show that the EU could end up stripping out provisions that would guarantee the openness of the internet.
There is still time to act. Contact your representatives, and ask them not to make any more compromises and save Net Neutrality.
For almost two years, the EU institutions have been debating the TSM. The EU Commission, the Council, and the EU Parliament are set to meet on Monday to conclude the text. That means that this week could be our last chance to save Net Neutrality in the EU.
What has happened so far?
After the Commission advanced a disappointing first text in September 2013, an intense battle in the European Parliament ensued, leading to the inclusion of clear rules for ensuring Net Neutrality in April 2014. But in March 2015 the Council advanced a proposal that would water down those rules and enable the creation of fast and slow lanes on the internet, and the blocking and filtering of lawful content.
Since then, all three institutions have gathered in so-called trialogue to try to reach agreement on a common text. All eyes have turned to the European Parliament, which may be the only institution willing and able to save the internet. The Parliament has voted five times for Net Neutrality in the past five years, standing firm in support of the open internet. Unfortunately, for the past three months, in response to total intransigence on the part of the EU member states, the Parliament has been giving up on several elements of the TSM, compromising its own position. The latest Parliament position is an incoherent text with provisions on Net Neutrality that provide the absolute bare minimum of protection. And this is not the end of the negotiation process.
As negotiations near completion, EU member states represented by the Council are asking the Parliament to compromise even more and give up on the key remaining provisions protecting Net Neutrality. It is no secret that from the very beginning of the negotiations, the Commission and the Council have been willing to push the Parliament into accepting a deal ending roaming phone charges in Europe in exchange for sacrificing Net Neutrality. Now the question is whether the Parliament will succumb to this pressure.
What could happen?
If the Parliament were to capitulate and remove the few remaining Net Neutrality protections from the text, the EU would permit the construction of a two-tiered internet for 500 million people, undermining their right to receive and impart information freely, and setting a destructive standard for online freedom around the world.
Globally, the impact on EU competitiveness could be huge. In the EU, citizens and the telecoms industry are looking at the possibility of making phone calls without roaming surcharges by 2017. But this could come at the high price of seeing citizens’ internet access restricted, and innovation hampered. In the meantime, in the US, the tech industry, and citizens are already benefiting from Net Neutrality protections and a telecoms market that is eliminating roaming charges internationally.
What can be done?
The European Parliament can still ensure that Net Neutrality is protected in Europe. We have one week to contact our representatives and ask them to not make any more compromises.
Go to savetheinternet.eu and take action!
Here is the list of key members of the European Parliament involved in the discussion:
Pilar del Castillo (EPP, Spain)
Patrizia Toia (S&D, Italy)
Vicky Ford (ECR, UK)
Jens Rohde (ALDE, Denmark)
Marisa Matias (GUE, Portugal)
Michel Reimon (Greens, Austria)
Dario Tamburrano (EFDD, Italy)
Petra Kammerevert (S&D, Germany)