The EU Data Protection Regulation has four times the number of amendments as the Telecoms Package. How will the rapporteur handle this disproportionate application of lobbying?
The full scale of the lobbying crisis over new European privacy rules has been exposed today as the rapporteur, Jan Albrecht, published his full draft report with amendments. They total a staggering three thousand, one hundred and thirty-three, on 1347 pages. He will need a court-room trolley to carry them around. How will he handle the massive conflict that the content of the amendments reflects ?
The amendment total is almost four times that of the Telecoms Package, to which around 800 amendments were tabled. The Telecoms Package was a big piece of legislation, comprising five directives. That suggests that the fight over the content of the EU Data Protection Regulation is meltingly hot.
The volume of amendments is due the astonishing scale of lobbying. There are some half a dozen industries that have a position in the new privacy law, including banking, publishing, telecoms, healthcare, and insurance. They have been actively canvassing the European Parliament with the amendments that they would like to see to protect their own business interests. Given the laundry lists of lobbying documents that have been compiled, it is likely that a large number of the amendments originated with industry (and based on my own past experience, this suspicion may well be correct).
By contrast, scale of the NGO lobby has recently been exposed on a website that helpfully provided an extensive laundry list of NGO amendments, together with the names of the MEPS tabling them. There is a well-organised and surprisingly large NGO lobby, including citizens advocacy groups from around Europe.
Taken altogether, the industry and NGO lobbying takes the overall level of “noise” well off the Richter scale for European legislation. And of course, it is precisely on the interface between industry and the NGOs where the hottest part of the conflict will fire off.
To say that Mr Albrecht has a tough job is an understatement. As rapporteur, his role is to pilot the Regulation through the European Parliament. He will have establish a consensus position for the Parliament as a whole. Where there are conflicts, he has to find compromises between the different political positions.
As a Green MEP, he was very lucky to be given the role of rapporteur on this piece of legislation, which is regarded as being of some importance in the EU. To date, European data protection law has set the gold standard for privacy protection. The Greens, as a small group within the Parliament, don’t get so many opportunities to take a rapporteurship.
Moreover, Mr Albrecht comes from the new intake at the last European Parliament elections. He has no previous experience of shepherding legislation. He was was given the chance because he is a German lawyer and has developed a good reputation within his short time in Brussels.
Mr Albrecht is charged with a high responsibility. It will be interesting to see how he is able to weed out the important issues and how he can build those compromises.
Catherine Trautmann struggled with the Telecoms Package, and she is a very experienced politician and former French Culture Minister. She had to deal with not only copyright, but also telecoms infrastructure competition, and was quite stressed by the end of the second reading.
Mr Albrecht will have to set his personal preferences to one side as he attempts to balance the many fighting interests that will surely be paying him a visit.
*I’m still working some analysis of the amendments – it’s a bit trickier than it looks. As always, there is not complete consistency, and any allegation concerning the tabling of lobbyists amendments should be placed into context.
This is an original article from Iptegrity.com. If you refer to it or to its content, you should cite my name as the author, and provide a link back to iptegrity.com. Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten, EU data privacy law gets a whopping 3133 amendments, in www.iptegrity.com, 19 March 2013 . Commercial users - please contact me.