Is it a stitch-up or just following rules? Either way, the European Parliament tonight bulldozed through a decision on the team which will represent it in the Third Reading negotiations with the Council. And they have a mandate to ‘focus’ the discussion on Amendment 138 only. Which means that they do not want a debate on the Internet restrictions that are elsewhere in the Package.
The outcome of the Telecoms Package will determine the kind of Internet that we will have in Europe. At a non-public meeting tonight, those in charge of process in the European Parliament have attempted to keep a tight hand of control on the process. It can be anticipated that they plan to give in to the Council on Amendment 138.
Tonights meeting was the first 'constituent' meeting of the Conciliation committee for the Telecoms Package. Chaired by a vice-president, Alejo Vidal Quadras, who has had no
involvement in the Telecoms Package to date, the committee blindly accepted the positions put forward by the two rapporteurs, Catherine Trautmann and Malcolm Harbour. According to a report from inside the meeting, Mrs Trautmann said that the Telecoms Package is not the place to solve net neutrality and put forward her suggestion of an alternative intitiative - which, neither she, nor the European Parliament, has the power to implement. Mr Harbour suggested that "the Telecom Package is very good even according to the FCC guidelines" - a statement which many European citizens and lawyers would hotly dispute. The Telecoms Package will remove powers from European regulators to intervene on behalf of Internet start-ups in the way the FCC has done.
Mr Vidal Quadras, Spain, EPP, "concluded" that there was "agreement" to focus on Amendment 138, and not open up any other amendments.
The negotiating team will be Catherine Trautmann ( as rapporteur she has to be on it); Alejo Vidal Quadras; and the chair of the ITRE committee which is responsible for the directive, Herbert Reul. They both have to be on it too. Mr Reul is German, from the newly-re-elected CDU party, which is pushing through an Internet censorship law and which has a very strong interest i in pushing through the Telecoms Package on behalf of Deutsche Telekom.
The negotiating team has two EPP members and one PSE. Adina-Ioana Valean (ALDE, Romania) asked for the negotiating team to be opened up to other political groups. Neither Mrs Trautmann nor Mr Vidal Quadras wanted to open the negotiating team to other political groups on the grounds that it was "too risky". Risky for who? Or what? These are the questions that European citizens need to ask.
Philippe Lamberts (Belgium Green) pointed out that in resolving Amendment 138, other articles may have to be included.
The negotiating team will meet tomorrow. The European Parliament's delegation will meet on 7 October.
It is interesting to note that the exclusion of other political groups also keeps Malcolm Harbour off the negotiating team.
The Swedish Presidency is believed to be trying to push the Package through and remove Amendment 138. Remember my previous article about the Package being decided over dinner! Well, there certainly will be attempts to decide it well away from the public gaze. Once again I get the feeling that MEPs are frightened of speaking up. If the MEPs in this process cannot democratically represent the views of citizens, then it is a sad day for Europe.
Full list of Conciliation committee members is here
La Quadrature du Net campaign to for net neutrality in the Telecoms Package is here
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2009) Telecoms Package , the tight hand of control on Internet rights http://www.iptegrity.com 17 September 2009.