Mobilisation 2days to save am138 and citizens rights in Telecoms Package
Two days to call all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) seating in ITRE committee to ask them to vote again for amendment 138 (now am. 46)
Keep in mind that MEP are in Strasbourg today !
On Tuesday, April 21st at 20:00, the ITRE report of the Telecoms Package, rapported by Catherine Trautmann, will come to a vote in the ITRE (Industry, TRansport, Energy) committee.
It may reintroduce amendment 138 (now renumbered amendment 46), a crucial safeguard of user's rights on the Internet, and protection against the media industry private police and retribution called the "graduated response" or "three strikes" schemes. Am. 138 was approved by 88% of the European Parliament in first reading, on September 24th, 2008.
Yet rapporteur Catherine Trautmann is currently negotiating with the Council of the EU, which under the French presidency, and under very strong influence from M Sarkozy, deleted the amendment in first reading.
The Council may propose a compromise version of amendment 138/46 that is completely neutralized, or that may even become the opposite of the original by allowing the "three strikes" scheme instead of preventing it. According to the latest negotiations, am.138/46 wouldn't anymore be an article (that must be transposed by Member States in their law) but a mere recital that has just indicative value.
It is urgent to contact the members of the ITRE committee to advise them to reject compromise with the Council that failed to respect the intent of the original amendment. The best would be once again to approve the amendment.
Time is short, so we must act promptly.
Everybody should contact Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sitting on the ITRE Committee.
Here is A list of the ITRE members indicating how they previously voted on amendment 138, and their global score on the 1st reading of the Telecoms Package. And here are vCards for easy import in your favorite address book.
Begin with the members from your country, then the substitutes from your country, then members and substitutes from other countries.
- Telephoning is much more effective than email, especially on such short notice
- On Monday, MEPs will be reachable in Brussels. On Tuesday they will be in Strasbourg.
The vote will take place on Tuesday, April 21, 2009, at 20h00. MEPs must be informed before that.
On the morning of Tuesday, April 21, will be held a Coreper meeting (the diplomatic body which prepares the decisions of the Council) that will negotiate a compromise with Catherine Trautmann. According to our information, the compromise can only be bad. (Instead of an article, which requires implementation by the member states, they insist on making it a recital, that has only advisory value but does not become part of national laws!)
Here are the major points you should explain to the MEPs and their assistants:
- ITRE MEPs must advise Catherine Trautmann to refuse a weak compromise with the council which neutralizes it by making it a recital instead of an article and they should vote for amendment 46 (which exactly restates amendment 138).
- Right before the elections, it's a perfect way to show the usefulness of the European Parliament, and its commitment to protecting the rights and freedoms of its citizens.
- Amendment 138 was approved by 88% of the European Parliament in first reading on September 24, 2008. It has been accepted by the Commission, and Mrs Reding herself said that “The Commission considers this amendment to be an important restatement of key legal principles of the Community legal order, especially of citizens' fundamental rights.”
- Amendment 138 is protective of users' rights. It reinforces a fundamental principle of European law: except where public security is directly threatened, only a judge can impose conditions -- a sentence under law -- that restrict a citizen's fundamental rights and freedoms.
The original amendment 138:
Applying the principle that no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened in which case the ruling may be subsequent.
- It is directly opposed to "graduated response" (or "three strikes") schemes such as the one being deployed in France (yet it's not a purely French problem, because other EU states are considering such a scheme, and at some point it was sneaked into the Telecoms Package). It also opposes other forms of private, nonjudicial, parallel "justice" that would be dangerous for everyone's civil liberties.
- The Council removed it, with no justification, under heavy pressure from Nicolas Sarkozy, thus voiding a decision of 88% of the Parliament.
- No compromise should be accepted that doesn't protect civil freedoms as well as the original amendment does. As a recital instead of an article, it loses all protective power. (The current state of the compromise between the rapporteur and the Council is a weak recital.)
- It is a strong signal to the EU citizens at a time when EU institutions face a deep crisis of confidence.
Example phone call
- You : _"Hello, i am ... , living in ..., I am calling you today regarding the Telecoms Package, as I understand Mrs/Mr MEP is a member of ITRE committee, and there is an important vote on April the 21st."
(let your correspondent introduce herself, give her opinion and infos on the question, etc.)
- You : _"Amendment 138 was a very strong signal sent by the European Parliament to the citizens. It is protective of fundamental freedoms, when media industries want to impose their private police and parallel, arbitrary justice over the Internet, like what they are trying to do in France and in some other Member States."
- Interlocutor : "Mrs/Mr MEP is concerned with this topic, but she/he will follow the instructions of Mrs Trautmann."
- You : _"I heard Mrs Trautmann is currently negociating with the Council, and may be about to accept to replace amendment 46 by a recital. This would remove all protective value and make it useless. Mrs/Mr MEP must vote for am.46 instead of a compromise recital."
- Interlocutor : "It is complicated. We need to reach an agreement in order to avoid the conciliation procedure with the Council."
- You : _"Is reaching an agreement more important than protecting EU citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms? It is important, before the elections, to show that the Parliament is useful, that it protects its electors, and that it doesn't bend under the pressure a few member states apply through the Council!"
- Interlocutor : "There are many other important issues in the Telecoms Package, industries are waiting..."
- You : _"We need Europe to protect citizens before industries. Please tell Mrs/Mr MEP to ask Mrs Trautmann to keep the am.46 as is, as an article. Please ask Mrs/Mr MEP to vote for am.46 in the name of its electors who will be very attentive to the outcome of this vote. I am available if you have questions about these issues, or other issues related to civil liberties in the digital environment. (leave your contact infos). Have a nice day, thank you for your time!"
Arguments and counter-arguments
Here are arguments you will hear, and how to counter them:
If you are given other arguments that you cannot counter, please add them to the list or send us an email (contact AT laquadrature DOT net), we will try to counter them as soon as possible.
- Going back to amendment 138 (46) would cause a direct conflict with the Council, thus bringing a "conciliation procedure" (sort of a third reading, where the text is negotiated between the Parliament and the Council), that would take some more months, and where we may lose what we gained already.
The role of the European Parliament is to protect EU citizens. Protecting citizens' rights and freedoms must be more important for the Parliament than merely keeping to a schedule. MEPs don't want to show that the European Parliament always yields to the Council. This would show that the Parliament is useless and that the Council always gets what it dictates.
- Amendment 138/46 is not legal under the law of some Member States. Some Member States such as France, UK, and Sweden won't accept it through the Council.
The Commission accepted the amendment (“The Commission considers this amendment to be an important restatement of key legal principles of the Community legal order, especially of citizens' fundamental rights.”), which means it is legal under EU law. Moreover, this amendment just restates EU law, as stated by Catherine Trautmann herself after first reading: "if 'graduated response' goes against the fundamental principle that we have only recalled, we must question the viability of the whole scheme". (“S'il s’avère que la riposte graduée va à l’encontre du principe fondamental que nous n’avons fait que rappeler, il faut s’interroger sur la viabilité même du système.“)
Maybe these countries just want to implement "graduated response" / "three strikes" schemes, such as the disastrous French HADOPI law, or create some other system private police and parallel "justice" disastrous for citizens' rights. This would be intolerable.
- No one will approve it against the will of Rapporteur Trautmann anyway!
She knows this is the right thing to do to safeguard EU citizens' rights, and she needs a strong majority within the ITRE committee to support her.
A few weeks before the elections, with massive abstentions expected, rejecting strong protection for their rights and freedoms would be a terrible signal to send to the voters.
Contact us for feedback and help
If you encounter a question you cannot answer, DON'T PANIC. Say that you will call back, and contact us (contact AT laquadrature DOT net). We will be pleased to help you in answering all your questions.
Please also contact us to tell us how it went with your MEP, and what response you received.