Catherine Trautmann, rapporteur for the Telecoms Package framework directive, has asked the European Commission to take a full review of net neutrality, and stated that it should be enshrined as a principle under EU law.


As the spotlight focussed on the replacement of Amendment 138, another element of the Telecoms Package agreement last week fell into the shadows. Regular iptegrity readers will know that a Declaration on Net Neutrality from the European Commission was also on the cards, and that I was somewhat critical of the way it had been written.


A re-worked version of the Declaration on Net Neutrality was also

agreed last Wednesday and has finally emerged into the light. (See below). It appears to have been drafted by the rapporteur, Catherine Trautmann. It's interesting that Mrs Trautmann has tightened up the Commission's original wording. Where the Commission was playing fast and loose with users' rights, and would have just monitored the restrictions permitted in the Harbour report, Mrs Trautmann is saying that is not good enough.


Mrs Trautmann  refers to a "decision" of the co-legislators to "enshrine net neutrality as a policy objective".  This is interesting. If there is a decision made by the Council and the European Parliament (the co-legislators) to enshrine net neutrality in EU policy, then this could represent a political signal for Europe.


She crosses out the Commission's concept of ‘net freedoms' which is a piece of "commission-ese" and legally meaningless.


Mrs Trautmann further asks the Commission to ensure that competition law is used in situations  where it does apply, and requests the Commission to conduct a legislative review of issues related to net neutrality, covering fixed and wireless communications. She has asked for the review to be completed by 2011.


Unlike the Commission's original text, this version of the Declaration makes a stronger policy commitment and points towards legislation. It will of course still take a few years before the legislation is in place, years when network operators could wreak havoc with the Internet as we know it, if they chose to do so. Some commentators suggest that a strong political signal like this, will keep them at bay. I am sceptical whether industrial giants like Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica will be frightened of future legislation.  


The Jury remains out on the Telecoms Package outcome. I will report further when I have gathered more views and opinions.


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) Catherine Trautmann re-writes net neutrality policy 9 November  2009.