Tag Archives: European Parliament

Th!nk Kosmopolito!

Nov 29th: Th!nk about it! – The European Blogging Competition 2009

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Good news from the European Parliament

Just a short update on two issues that have also been discussed on this blog:

1. What happened with the “Telecoms Package” (that I have mentioned here and here)? It seems that most of the worrying amendments regarding copyright issues (especially the three strikes approach) were not adopted by the European Parliament. A detailed analysis by La Quadrature du Net will be published in the next days. However, it was an impressive example of digital citizen lobbyism. If you read German head over to netzpolitik.org and heise.deEurActiv has a long and rather general article on the whole initiative. But it is true: the Internet is rather quiet about this success in the European Parliament as A Fistful of Euros notes. Bashing the EU is much easier, I guess.

2. And what about the mysterious “blogger regulation” of Marianne Mikko … that actually never really existed in the first place? Well, it was not adopted by the European Parliament (or rather not included in the EP resolution). For more details check out EUobserver and Julien Frisch.

European Parliament votes on ‘Telecoms’ package this Wednesday!

The first reading of the so-called Telecoms Package will take place this Wednesday at 11h30am in the European Parliament. The main problem with the directive is the following: Originally the initiative aimed at regulating the market of  telecommunication companies but, due to some intense lobbying by some big media companies,  it now also contains proposals regarding some very controversial copyright issues. Le laquadrature du Net has a good summary of all developments surrounding this initiative.  The following  amendments contain some problematic provisions such as:

Feel free to join the campaign that lobbies for a more open internet. All updates can be found here and as a RSS feed here. (everything is also available in French, German and Spanish). They also provide you with important lobbying advices for the remaining 24 hours before the vote: a very helpful example of a phone conversation with an MEP, a list of ‘incorrect’ arguments, and obviously some nice blog banners:

Save the European Net !

MEPs and Conflicts of interest…

Via Julien Frisch’s Blog I discovered the report “Too Close for Comfort? MEPs, corporate links and potential conflict of interests” (pdf) which has just been published by Spinwatch with quite some interesting stories on:

  • MEPs who accept paid work and hospitality from businesses with a vested interest in their legislative work
  • MEPs with a financial interest in industries they promote
  • MEPs who are in key legislative positions – for example, chairing parliamentary committees – while at the same time being involved with powerful business lobby groups.

the reasons behind the report:

The report argues that these potential conflicts of interest demand the attention of Europe’s leaders, more so than the recent scandals involving MEP’s expenses. Too Close for Comfort? profiles 12 MEPs from the UK, Germany, France, Finland and Romania. Their activities are seen as illustrative of these potential conflicts of interest but are not deemed extraordinary.

So, who is included? Here is the list of MEPs:

  • Sharon Bowles: Patent lawyer pushing patents
  • John Purvis: Investing in industry
  • Klaus-Heiner Lehne: Another lawyer pushing patents
  • Elmar Brok: MEP and media man
  • Jorgo Chatzimarkakis: Network of lobbying links
  • Malcolm Harbour: MEP inside the car industry
  • Giles Chichester: Close to (nuclear) power
  • Pervenche Beres: Opening doors to the financial industry
  • Caroline Jackson: Benefiting the waste industry
  • Ioan Mircea Paşcu: Consultant to US military contractors
  • Eija-Riitta Korhola: Pro-nuclear and funded by nuclear
  • Martin Callanan: More MEP motoring perks

You can download the report here.

Maybe also some potential contestants for the “Worst EU Lobbying Awards” … ?

‘Telecoms package’: Is this the end of the free internet as we know it?

via netzpolitik I came across of some interesting details about the reform of the “European law on electronic communications” ( the so called “Telecoms Package”) which will be debated in the European Parliament next week (7 July).

La Quadrature du Net / Squaring the Net, a European NGO initiative, released a press release that criticises a series of amendments which aim “at closing the open architecture of the Internet for more control and surveillance of users.” The proposed amendments could jeopardise the net neutrality principle and might change the nature of the internet:

European Internet users could be blocked from lawful activities by mandatory spyware, in the interests of their security. The right to use free software for internet access would therefore not be assured anymore. The neutrality of the Internet is also directly attacked, as is the principle that technical intermediaries have no obligation to prior surveillance of contents. Other amendments will de facto enable administrative authorities to obligate ISPs to work with content producers and rights-holders’ private police, including the sending of intimidating messages, with no judicial or regulatory oversight. (more…)

There is also a wiki in English, French and German with the main arguments against the amendments and some guidelines how to get active and how to contact relevant MEPs.

A good overview about the whole issue can also be found in this Briefing paper on the Telecoms Package (pdf) by Monica Horten, a PhD student at Westminster University:

Abstract:

This paper considers how imminent changes to European  telecommunications law will permit the monitoring and blocking of websites and peer-to-peer exchanges by ISPs, in  a way that is currently not legally possible. These legal  changes  will also permit ISPs to sanction users by suspending or terminating Internet access. And they are essential in order  for the French ‘riposte graduee’ or ‘3 strikes’ copyright enforcement measures to be implemented.

The changes are a series of hidden amendments related to copyright, and contained in the so-called ‘Telecoms package’. This paper argues that  these amendments  will  effectively erode  the ISP’s legal status of ‘mere conduit’, which currently  protects individual rights and liberties on the Internet. It argues that the ‘mere conduit’ status should be preserved, and  the copyright amendments rejected. The proposed copyright amendments will result in the loss of individual freedom and privacy on the Internet – in breach of fundamental principles of human rights law in Europe.  Ultimately, they  could open the door to wider political or commercial censorship, and this is the real danger of permitting them to get into law. The risk is that this will happen without proper legislative scrutiny or public debate. The European Parliament committees responsible for the Telecoms package vote on July 7th and the Parliament as a whole will vote on September 2nd. (more…)

Update 10.7.2008: EU Parliament split over electronic data protection

Marianne Mikko and the Blogs – Reloaded

Does anyone remember this story? The European Parliament was accused of trying to regulate blogs… of course this was not really the case. Basically Marianne Mikko (MEP) did not understand blogging and made some strange recommendation in a EP resolution (which has no legal weight whatsoever!).

Anyway, today the EUobserver reports that this story has also arrived in Sweden:

Swedish media have erroneously reported that the EU plans to register and bill all bloggers, setting off a firestorm of reaction in the country.

Politicians of all political stripes and most major media outlets have since furiously attacked the idea as another example of Big Brother snooping into people’s daily lives, while the MEP at the heart of the controversy has been compared to Romanian dictator Nikolae Ceausescu.

The article makes some good reading if you are interested in

a) How long it takes for a topic to spread across Europe… The whole issue came up more than a month ago! Another interesting thing is how the story was transformed … the ‘first’ debate a month ago was about a “quality mark and some disclosure remarks”; now the Swedish debate was about EU  plans to “register and bill all bloggers”.

b) How national and European debates mix. The new surveillance legislation in Sweden is of course a good context for the blog topic, although both originated within different policy areas. However, it seems to me that the bigger scandal is indeed the new Swedish law…

c) A bold political statement: “She has a hole in her head”

d) More proofs that blogging and presumably the Internet are not properly understood … In the words of Ms Mikko: “The Economist is a valuable brand, its articles are trusted by readers without contributors having to reveal their names,” she said. “If there is a way to validate the best bloggers the same way that publishing in the Economist validates its writers, it should be done.”

A Northern Perspective offers an explanation why we see this kind of debate in Sweden:

A combination of  a lack knowledge of how the EU works, British type tabloid sensationalism and the hidden agenda of a certain group of so-called liberals can make wonders in influencing the public opinion, a very useful thing in these days when the future of the Union is very much at stake.

Who’s your candidate?

Here we go again, with another campaign… this time about the President of the European Commission, no doubt the most powerful person in European politics. The Who’s your Candidate? campaign calls for a transparent and democratically elected President of the European Commission. The term “presidential elections” (see logo) is somewhat misleading since the new European Council President is commonly and wrongly (!) referred to as the “president of the EU”. But however, this confusion is due to the rather unnecessary post of a European Council President… Another small mistake is connected with the second point (see below): Legally there are no Lisbon treaty articles but only amendments to TEU and TFEU articles.

Anyway, the aims of the campaign are worth supporting: Linking the EP elections to the most powerful position in the EU could turn the European Parliament elections into a truly European event with European issues and European debates. This would stop the current situation where voters use EP elections to vote on national issues. At the same time, it might help EP elections to get into the spotlight and thus result in higher turnouts.

Here is the short campaign description:

1. The President of the European Commission should no longer be chosen behind closed doors in the European Council.

2.Instead, the President of the European Commission should be chosen by the European Parliament, and, by implication, us the voters, as hinted in articles 9A and 9D of the Lisbon Treaty.

3.Therefore, the political parties in the European Parliament should, in good time before the June 2009 parliament elections, answer the question: Who’s Your Candidate?

You can sign the petition here!