We have prepared a package of amendments that should be tabled at the European Parliament.
A declaration on the amendments:
In defence of the Citizens' Rights Amendments
Last September the European Parliament with sometimes an overwhelming majority of up to 88% adopted two amendments to the so-called EU Telecoms Package which acknowledge the importance of access to information and of the freedom of expression for citizens in our modern Information Society.
The provisions of the EU Telecoms Package, if properly construed, can assist the European Community and its citizens to greatly benefit from the potential of modern electronic communications services. Article 32a of Directive 2002/22/EC (Amendment 166) and Article 8 paragraph 4 point (ga) of Directive 2002/21/EC (Amendment 138) which were adopted in the European Parliament's First Reading were bound to guarantee citizens' right to express themselves and access information without unnecessary and unjustified restrictions. The Citizens’ Rights Amendments that we are now proposing aim to restore that position adopted by the Parliament in its First Reading.
Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as the constitutional traditions of Member States, have granted the right to freedom of expression and to access of information, acknowledging their importance as fundamental rights of everyone in a democratic society. Those rights should be protected against any unnecessary and unjustified restriction as the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union recognises.
The need to provide sufficient guarantees to citizens' right to freedom of expression and information appears even more crucial nowadays when innovation and creativity mostly depends on users' ability and right to access information. A balanced approach between users' rights, as well as the rights and freedoms of others, and the protection of public safety and security, calls for the sufficient protection of everyone's right to receive and impart information and to hold opinions, while ensuring that restrictions to that right may only be imposed if they are necessary, narrow in scope and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union.
Restoring Amendments 166 and 138 and amending provisions that support the principles of those amendments are in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the constitutional traditions of Member States, as well as the policy guidelines adopted by governmental authorities across Europe such as the Guidelines for Internet Neutrality of the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (NPT) (Version 1.0, 24 February 2009), which reinforce users' right to an Internet connection that they are able to use freely and non-discriminatorily without legitimising unlawful or harmful actions.
But that's not enough. The original version voted by the Parliament has been under various attacks even after the Common Position was voted by the Council. While the Parliament, the Commission and the Council are supposed to work out a compromise solution, the text prepared has been pushed in a totally different direction, further departing from the approved text. New language jeopardizing the fundamental Freedoms of citizens and the free development of Information Society has been entered without any kind of democratic control, and consistently to serve specific interests of a limited circle of interested parties against citizens' interest. The package has been so hollowed out that it is unrecognisable. Thus, simply retabling the two key amendments technically would not be sufficient guarantee to the fundamental Freedoms that we pursue. According to the rules of procedure of the Parliament (“to amend a part of the text of a common position which was not included in – or differs in content from – the proposal submitted in First Reading” – rule 62), this situation fully justifies the proposal of new amendments in the Second Reading. We call upon all MEPs to stand up for the same Free Internet that has permitted an unprecedented evolution of the digital market and society, and to all citizens to support those taking action.