Results European elections for digital rights

By EDRi · June 12, 2004

One of the results of the European elections is the loss of some excellent Members of Parliament. EDRI wishes to thank a number of MEPs that have struggled hard to defend privacy and digital civil rights, but have not been re-elected.

As rapporteur of the Directive on privacy and electronic communications, the Italian MEP Marco Cappato worked very hard to insert important privacy-guarantees and fiercely opposed mandatory retention of telecommunications traffic data. Author of the report on the right to privacy and data protection (approved by Parliament on 9 March 2004 by 439 votes in favour, 39 against and 28 abstentions), organiser of an important civil society meeting in Parliament, staunch protester against the transfer of PNR-data to the US without strong privacy-protection, and tabler of many key amendments on the IPR Enforcement Directive at the first reading, Cappato deserves a lot of credit as a champion for digital rights. Mister Cappato’s Lista Bonino lost almost three quarters of its voters, compared to the 1999 EU Parliament elections, and will send only two MEPs to Brussels. Mr. Cappato held place three on this list and may come back to Brussels as a substitute MEP if one of the two others should be replaced.

MEP Johanna Boogerd-Quaak from the small Dutch democratic-liberal party unfortunately also lost her seat, making it impossible for her to see the end of the court-case she instigated against the European Commission about the PNR-transfer to the US. Boogerd-Quaak was vice-chairman of the parliamentary citizen’s rights committee (LIBE) and initiated an important report on freedom of the media (adopted on 22 April 2004, by 237 votes in favour to 24 against, 14 abstentions and mass blocking of the vote by centre right MEPs). Furthermore, she strongly opposed the proposals from the Commission for unlimited software patents.

The Liberal Group will also be missing her fellow Dutch MEP, Elly Plooij-Van Gorsel. She was one of the Parliament’s most high-profile MEPs when it came to defending the internet as a place of free expression. She opposed the data retention provision in the privacy in telecommunication directive and joined EDRI in a press conference in May 2002 against the proposal. As vice-chairman of the EU parliament Echelon committee, Plooij has taken a pro-encryption stand. Plooij finally, was rapporteur on the EU software patents directive and proposed various amendments that softened the directive. Mrs. Plooij -van Gorsel did not run any more.

The German MEP Ilka Schroeder, who separated from the Greens in 2001 to become an independent MEP, also participated actively in the parliamentary committees on Echelon and citizen’s rights. Like the previously mentioned MEPs she opposed mandatory data retention (she was the rapporteur for the 2002 privacy directive in the Industry committee) and software patents, and warned against initiatives to turn Europe into a cyber-police state.

EDRI also wishes to thank the French MEP Alima Boumedienne-Thiery from the French Greens, who has given the European Parliament a number of outstanding reports on human rights issues. Boumedienne-Thiery was the rapporteur of the 2003 annual report on fundamental rights in the EU, presented to the EP in Strasbourg on April 2004. The report was rejected by a very small majority: 184 vs. 177 MEPs that supported the report.

Finally, Olga Zrihen, of the French-speaking Belgian Social Democrats will also have to clear her office in the European Parliament. Mrs. Zrihen, who has been a Member of the Parliament for only three years, was lately very engaged in the fight against software patents.

Provisional results European elections

(Thanks to Andreas Dietl, EDRI EU affairs director)