As negotiations on the Telecoms Single Market (TSM) near conclusion in the EU, the Parliament may break its promise to deliver Net Neutrality.
For the past two months the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, and the Council of the EU have gathered almost every week to try to strike a deal on the Telecoms Single Market regulation. What began as an omnibus draft regulation has been whittled down to two proposals: one to end data roaming in the EU — which would make make mobile connectivity much cheaper across the continent — and one to enshrine Net Neutrality, the principle according to which all data should be treated equally, not discriminating among users, websites, or services.
The so-called “trialogue” negotiation has so a far failed to settle these issues, in part because the EU member states have either refused to discuss Net Neutrality altogether, or have advanced proposals with one clear objective: to kill Net Neutrality by allowing as much discrimination on the network as possible — from filtering of legal content to zero rating.
Until now, the EU Parliament — historically pro-Net Neutrality — has held firm in its position (voted on in April 2014). However, as pressure from the member states intensifies, some members of Parliament have begun to consider a worrying trade off — reducing roaming charges in exchange for undermining Net Neutrality. For the Parliament to make such a trade-off would mean turning their backs on the promise they made to EU citizens. This could mean the end of an open, non-discriminatory internet in the EU.
Here’s 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 members states agree on joint position on TSM. The text kills Net Neutrality and ensures the continuity of roaming charges under another name.
- May 26, 2015: EU Parliament seems ready to kill Net Neutrality to get a deal that might end roaming charges by July 2017.
Fortunately, the negotiations aren’t over yet, and there’s still time to take action. The next two weeks leading up to the Council meeting of Telecommunications ministers on June 12th will be crucial for the future of the internet in the EU. Now, more than ever, it is time to save the internet!
We encourage you to Tweet at the members of the Parliament — see handles and sample Tweets below — and ask your representatives to defend Net Neutrality!
Pilar del Castillo, EPP, Spain – @delcastillop
Patrizia Toia, S&D, Italy – @toiapatrizia
Vicky Ford, ECR, UK – @vickyford
Jens Rohde, ALDE, Denmark – @rohde_jens
Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE, Belgium – @GuyVerhofstadt
The Socialist & Democrats group – @TheProgressives
The Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) – @ALDEgroup
The European People’s Party (EPP) – @EPPGroup
Dear @ , please don’t kill #netneutrality. Oppose Council’s proposal on TSM!
Dear @ , I want my #DigitalSingleMarket without roaming AND with #netneutrality! Please save #netneutrality!
Dear @ , don’t’ give in to the Council’s tactics. Please uphold your promise of #netneutrality!
Dear @ , we’re relying on you to #savetheinternet in the EU! protect #netneutrality!