By Joe McNamee

After seven months of discussions, negotiations, lobbying and general
confusion, the European Parliament’s Industry Committee was due to have
a vote on Monday of this week on net neutrality. So… what happened?

Well, nothing happened. Not exactly nothing… quite a long discussion
in fact. There were just two items on the agenda, a vote on a Directive
on reducing the use of plastic bags and the Regulation on the
Telecommunications Single Market.

Within moments of the start of the meeting, loud and sometimes quite
angry exchanges broke out, with certain parliamentarians, mainly from
the EPP group complaining that they received the compromise amendments
too late and not translated in line with the Parliament’s rules. These
objections were countered with allegations that the procedure followed
was explicitly agreed previously by all of the political groups.

As the discussions descended further and further into farce, the
Committee’s respected chairwoman, Patrizia Toia (S&D, Italy) was forced
to point out that the discussions were being recorded and that the
recording would be publicly available later that evening. However, no
amount of pleading from the Chair was able to bring peace to the meeting.

As exactly the same procedure had been followed in the Telecoms Single
Market Regulation, this question of whether or not to hold a vote on
this dossier also came up.

Finally, after an hour and a quarter of directionless discussion and
exasperated tweets from MEPs who were infuriated by developments, it was
decided to postpone the votes. The next scheduled meetings of the
Committee (during which it appears that the vote will probably take
place) are 17 and 18 March 2014

Now, more than ever, everybody should get as active as possible in the
campaign to save the free and open internet in Europe. Visit
savetheinternet.eu for more information.

EDRi campaign for Net Neutrality
http://www.savetheinternet.eu

A video of the meeting is available at (24.02.2014)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20140224-1900-COMMITTEE-ITRE

The video can be downloaded here (24.02.2014)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/vod/vodservice/getVODForDownload?vodid=28716&format=wmv&type=2&lang=EN

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)