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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, we

need 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 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. 


Read Viviane Reding's speech.



This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. 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, 25 June  2009.  

Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.


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