Viviane Reding, who is currently still the EU Commissioner for Information Society, has renewed a call to ‘seal the deal' on the Telecoms Package. Her haste to get the Package all wrapped up seems a little indecent. Amendment 138, the reason why the Package has not been sealed, raises issues concerning the protection of fundamental rights on the Internet. And, as European Commissioner, she is a guardian of the Treaties, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights. But what if she takes up the seat she won as MEP?
Speaking at a telecoms industry event, she said "In this time of economic crisis, weneed to seal the deal on the new regulatory package so that we can move on to the other pressing regulatory issues that we face." Her call was addressed to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to agree a deal on the Telecoms Package. It is my understanding that the event, organised by ECTA, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association, was attended by Permanent Representatives to the Council, as well as industry lobbyists.
Her comments come just six weeks after she expressed support for the French graduated response/3-strikes law. During her campaign to become an MEP, Mrs Reding is reported as saying that the Telecoms Package and Amendment 138 will not be a barrier to the French government's Creation and Internet law. Her comments had the effect of ‘outing' her personal position as a supporter of graduated response. They have since been overruled by the French Conseil Constitutionel. Officially, as European Commissioner, Mrs Reding supports Amendment 138 and opposes the French government.
To put Mrs Reding's comments further into context, the Telecoms Package also contains provisions which permit broadband providers to restrict access to the Internet and which arguably support 3-strikes measures. ( Please see my other articles on iptegrity.com on this topic.) Mrs Reding has been advised by lobbyists for certain Internet companies about the blocking of services which already takes place on European networks.
Other discrepancies in Mrs Reding's position were raised by this speech. She said that she is not in favour of monopolies and she wants ‘high quality broadband'. It is not clear what she means by ‘high quality' since it does not necessarily imply universal broadband access, but could mean ensuring that it carries mass television broadcasts. On the other hand the demands of the former monopolies such as Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, are primary drivers of the Telecoms Package, and I felt there was a subtext in her her speech that seemed to favour them.
Mrs Reding currently has an enviable career choice. She won her seat as MEP for Luxembourg, but apparently she may also break the rules, and go for re-election for a third five-year term as a European Commissioner.
However, in my opinion, the Telecoms Package has put has highlighted her dual loyalties to the creative industries as well as the industries of the Internet. Not to mention her support for graduated response / 3-strikes measures. Now that pro-copyright French MEP Jacques Toubon has been deprived of his seat in the Parliament, there may well be lobbyists who would welcome Mrs Reding.
**Mrs Reding's comment also come on the day that the Telecoms Package, with Amendment 138, has been officially transmitted by the European Parliament to the Council of Ministers, so that the next stage of the legislative procedure can begin.
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)Viviane Reding in a hurry to seal the Package, http://www.iptegrity.com 25 June 2009.