By Maryant Fernández Pérez

On 14 December 2015, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) met in Strasbourg to vote on their report ”Towards a Digital Single Market Act”. This non-legislative statement is a response to the European Commission’s Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, presented on 6 May 2015. As witnessed by the 1287 amendments that were tabled to the draft report, the initiative generated widespread interest in the Parliament, and rapporteurs Kaja Kallas (ALDE) and Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D) had to work hard in reaching compromises between the different political groups.

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Many parts of the text adopted by both Committees offer clear and adequate language, for instance with respect to the rigorous application of the net neutrality principle, which would support appropriate implementation of Regulation 2015/2120, in line with EDRi’s suggestions. Likewise, the paragraph related to the liability of online intermediaries is remarkable. The report argues that “limited liability of intermediaries is essential to the protection of the openness of the Internet, fundamental rights, legal certainty and innovation”. In addition, it asks the Commission to ensure full respect of the Charter of Fundamental rights to avoid privatised law enforcement, which is what EDRi has been campaigning for since its inception.

There are other paragraphs, however, which would have benefited from some minor adjustments that limit the merit of this report. For instance, while the report stresses the importance of regaining citizens’ trust to the functioning of the digital economy, the text falls shy of adequately highlighting that data protection and privacy should be fully respected in any initiative related to the “free flow of data”. Similarly, the “once-only principle” with respect to e-government raises serious trust, privacy and security issues which are not addressed in the text jointly approved by the Industry (ITRE) and Internal Market (IMCO) Committees. Finally, given that the review of the telecoms regulatory framework is still in its infancy, the remarks the text makes on how these diverse markets should be regulated are premature.

While the Commission’s initial DSM Communication swayed by lobbying interests, lacked ambition and failed to propose policies conducive to engendering trust in the online space, the IMCO-ITRE report is vastly more lucid and ambitious. This report does not represent the position of the whole European Parliament, at least not yet. Following the vote in the ITRE and IMCO Committees, the report is expected to be voted on in Plenary in January 2016.

The final text of the report voted on 14 December has not been published yet. We will include it in the online version of this article as soon as possible: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+REPORT+A8-2015-0371+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN

Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32015R2120

IMCO-ITRE Draft Report “Towards a Digital Single Market Act” (22.09.2015)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2F%2FEP%2F%2FNONSGML%2BCOMPARL%2BPE-567.714%2B01%2BDOC%2BPDF%2BV0%2F%2FEN

EDRi: Our overview of the Digital Single Market Communication (17.05.2015)
https://edri.org/overview-of-dsm-communication/

EDRi briefing on the DSM Draft Report (06.10.2015)
https://edri.org/files/DSM_DraftReport_EDRi_Briefing.pdf

EDRi proposals for amendments to the DSM Draft Report (09.10.2015)
https://edri.org/files/DSM_DraftReport_EDRi_AmendmentProposals.pdf

EDRi recommendations to improve the draft Compromise Amendments (CAMs) to the draft report “Towards a Digital Single Market Act” (08.12.2015)
https://edri.org/files/DSM_DraftCAMS_EDRi_Comments.pdf

(Contribution by Inka Kotilainen, EDRi intern, and Maryant Fernández, EDRi)

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