Kroes launches her attack on net neutrality in Europe – a “death sentence for innovators”

By EDRi · September 11, 2013

Tomorrow, the European Commission will finally release its long-awaited draft proposal for a Regulation to complete the European single market for electronic communications. After promising the European Parliament strong measures in favour of net neutrality during her nomination hearing in 2010, she is now seeking to ensure its destruction.

It is very disappointing that the Commission has failed to propose meaningful Net neutrality safeguards and end restrictions on freedom of communication of European citizens – after endless promises to do so

says Joe McNamee, Executive Director of EDRi,

It is now up to the European Parliament to protect freedoms in Europe.

In 2010, Kroes said that discrimination by internet companies for “commercially motivated reasons, that is absolutely a no go”. Today, she is legislating for this discrimination. She now proposes to:

  • allow special deals as long as they do not “substantially” impair the general quality of internet access services (see recital 50) and
  • as long as they are not “widely used as a substitute for internet access service” (see article 2 – paragraph 15);
  • allow special deals between access and content providers as long as they do not “impair in a recurring or continuous manner the general quality of internet access services” (see article 23 – paragraph 2 part 2)
  • a broad range of exceptions to the prohibition of discriminatory measures (see article 23 (5) – a to d)

The opposition to Kroes in the Commission was huge. Senior Commissioners like Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, Home Affairs Commissioner Malmström, Enterprise Commissioner Antonio Tajani and Justice and Fundamental Rights Commissioner fought hard to protect European businesses and citizens – but their arguments fell on deaf ears.

The European Commission Directorate-General for Justice went so far as to state that they were “concerned that such provisions risk having a great negative impact on consumers’ freedom of expression and information, as guaranteed by Article 11 of the Charter” of Fundamental Rights.

If you want to find out in detail what the Regulation means for fundamental rights and the open, neutral Internet in Europe, you can read our FAQ here (pdf).

Text of the final draft Regulation (pdf)