The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

Can the European Parliament decide on a law that affects the fundamental rights of nearly 500 million people on the basis of a diary slot for dinner?  If this is true,  the European Parliament should be ashamed of itself!  From a citizen's perpective, it would be an insult. And it breaks the Parliament's own rules. 


**I am double-checking on this as I find it hard to believe.  See below for some additional information.**

**There is definitely movement now on the 3rd reading and I hope to have more soon.**


There are mixed messages on the Third Reading of the Telecoms Package: when it will start and what will be addressed. What is clear is that the pressure from the Council of Ministers to keep it

as narrow as possible, is getting very heavy.


What is quite disturbing is some information from inside the Parliament suggesting that  the date for commencement is based on the date for a Conciliation dinner.  Apparently, it is difficult to set a diary date for 54 people and their entourage, so that takes priority.


I have been given to understand that  Parliamentary aides want  the final decision  to be taken at this Conciliation dinner, but in fact, it will all have been agreed beforehand, in secret talks.


In other words, they agree what the outcome is going to be, they put the date for the Conciliation dinner in the diary, and then they officially open the process.  This is very concerning. Where is the possibility for proper scrutiny in this version of the process? Indeed, where is the democracy? 


It  is different from my understanding of Parliament's own  the rule book.  It sets out a  process that a committee, with  representatives  from each of the 27 member states, and from all of the party groups, convenes with the same number of representatives of the Council: hence 54 members. There should be a constituent meeting at the beginning, where all Conciliation Committee members will be briefed, and a mandate is given to a number of the members who will form a negotiating team. The negotiating team will attend trialogue discussions with the Council and the Commission. The area of dispute is negotiated, and it is possible under the rules to discuss other aspects of the legislation.


The Telecoms Package has a number of problem areas, from a legislative as well as a fundamental rights perspective. The European legislature has the responsibility to address them correctly.  Citizens should ask why the European Parliament seems  not willing to do so. And why their governments are so keen for a piece of legislation which erodes their rights, and gives  control of the communications networks to a few large corporations.


Additional information to confirm the above:

I have double checked and apparently my original report is accurate. There is a set of  processes for the Third Reading, which ends in a formal meeting with a dinner.

The Council's official  rejection of the Parliament's Second Reading is needed in order to give the signal for the Third Reading to commence. The Council will only make the rejection  when all of the dates for the meetings have been set.

Setting that date for the final dinner means taking a second guess at  how the negotiations will proceed - or possibly it means the bureaucrats  know how they will proceed because they have pre-determined the outcome. 

This means that officially the Telecoms Package is still with the Council in Second Reading, but the the Third Reading processes are being put in place anyway.

The first meeting of the Conciliation Committee will be on 28 th/29 th  September. At this meeting, the scope of the Third Reading will be decided. Nominations for the Committee are due by Friday. Let us hope that the MEPs who are selected will take their role seriously.

It seems to me ironic  that  the European Parliament is legislating for equipment that can process information at millions of transactions per second,  but as an institution, it  is incapable of processing the logistics for a dinner of just 54 people.



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), Telecoms Package to be decided over dinner! 16 September  2009.  







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