ENDitorial: Amendment 138-EP asked to choose between democracy and defeat

By EDRi · October 7, 2009

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Deutsch: [ENDitorial: Zusatz 138 – EP soll zwischen Demokratie und Niederlage wählen | http://www.unwatched.org/node/1543]

The opening meeting of the informal conciliation discussions between the
Council and European Parliament (EP) has taken place. This process was
largely brought about by the Parliament’s overwhelming rejection of a
“compromise” proposal with regard to the famous “amendment 138” text in May
of this year.

The Council of Ministers’ current proposal is for the Parliament to
unconditionally overturn its current position and accept the text that it
previously rejected.

As a result, the debate has become wider than “simply” the wording of one
paragraph of a piece of telecoms legislation. Instead, it is now a question
of the credibility of the Parliament as an institution and as a truly equal
partner in the legislative process. Consequently, the parliamentarians in
the Conciliation Committee are faced with a very stark choice between a
defeat, whose consequences for the Parliament will extend far beyond the
telecom package, or defending the democratic choices it has already made:


Parliamentarians can choose to accept the Council’s text. If they do so:

1. This will establish a new benchmark for inter-institutional
negotiations, suggesting that any Parliament vote of any size on any dossier
is vulnerable to being abandoned at a later stage in the decision-making
process. This can only serve to durably weaken the Parliament’s negotiating
2. They are laying the Parliament open to the accusation that they were
being pro-consumer before the elections and now betraying the trust of
citizens by taking an opposite position after the elections.
3. They are giving up the mandate that the previous vote gave them to
accept a Council position for which no coherent justification has ever been


On the other hand, the Parliament can demand that the Council (finally)
explain its motives for opposing amendment 138, thereby fulfilling a key
role that a parliament is supposed to play – demanding an adequate level of
coherent and transparent decision-making from other institutions.

For the moment, the arguments being used by the Council vary from the
obviously weak to the simply far-fetched. According to sources in the
negotiations, the Council has suggested, for example, that it cannot allow
consumers an unconditional right to a prior judgement by a judicial body
because of the need to protect networks from attacks.

Telecoms Package – Wikipedia

List of MEPs on the Conciliation Committee

(contribution from Joe McNamee – EDRi)