Christian Engström, Pirat

23 oktober 2009

Chaotic delegation meeting on the telecoms package

Filed under: English,informationspolitik,Telecoms Package — Christian Engström @ 12:57
Telekoms package delegation meeting in Strasbourg

Telekoms package delegation meeting in Strasbourg

This is a translation and slight adaptation of an entry in Swedish that I posted the other day.

Tuesday October 20, there was a meeting of the European Parliament’s delegation to the the telecoms package conciliation. It can only be described as fairly chaotic. As my political assistant Hax writes (in Swedish): This is no way to create legislation.

I am extremely critical of how the chairman, Alejo Vidal-Quadras (Christian Democrats group EPP, ES), chaired the meeting, and how he has been handling the negotiations with the Council of Ministers.

According to the rules, it is the European Parliament’s 27 member delegation that decides what Parliament’s position in the negotiations with the Council should be. Then it is up to the three negotiators to represent this mandate from the delegation in the so-called trialogue meetings with the Council representatives.

In the previous delegation meeting on October 7, it was made perfectly clear that the negotiators had no mandate to carry out discussions on the basis of the texts proposed by the Council and the Commission. Their job was to stick to the Parliament’s original version of amendment 138, and try to get the Council to formally declare what its objections were.

Before the October 20 meeting, there had been reports that the negotiators had ignored their mandate and betrayed Parliament. These reports proved to be 100% true.

When the three negotiators met with the Council, the talks had been on the basis of the Council’s and the Commission’s proposals, and not at all on the Parliament’s text. Trialogue chairman Vidal-Quadras did not even try to hide this, when he began the meeting by describing what had taken place during the negotiations. He also had the nerve to say that the delegation had unanimously given him that mandate on October 7.

– But, hey, for crying out loud! I was in that meeting, and I know very well what was said and not. I of course also know very well what the position of me and my colleague Philippe Lamberts (Greens, BE) was.

It was definitely not close to what Vidal-Quadras tried to say afterwards.

Philippe Lamberts protested forcefully against this distortion of the facts, and pointed out that it was both dishonest and unprofessional of the negotiators to behave like this. Vidal-Quadras responded that he thought Lamberts was being rude. According to his own views, had not made the slightest mistake.

I backed up Lambert by saying that I had exactly the same recollection of what mandate the negotiators had been given at the previous meeting. Eva-Britt Svensson (Left, SE) did it too, but after that there was no more discussion on this issue.

The discussions on substance began with Catherine Trautmann (Social Democrats, FR) presenting a proposal for a text to be the basis for further negotiations with the Council. Trautmann is a member of the negotiating team as the rapporteur for the directive that is under negotiation, so it is natural that she should present her views.

She had earlier asked for written proposals from the delegation members via mail, to be the basis for the text she was presenting at the meeting. I could no traces at all of her having drawn any inspiration from what and Philippe Lamberts and I had sent her (a slightly revised version of Amendment 138). Instead, Trautmann presented another variation on the Council’s and the Commission’s basic texts.

At this point, I began to fear that the outcome of this meeting would be for Parliament to fold down completely and just let itself be run over by the Council, without even a protest. Things brightened considerably when Stavros Lambrinidis (Social Democrats, GR) took the floor and suggested a number of amendments to the Trautmann text.

These amendments were only presented orally, so unfortunately I cannot describe the exact steps in the discussion, but the result was in any case the current delegation text to be presented to the Council by the negotiations.

I supported Lambrinidis by saying that it sounded like a very interesting amendments, and that I would love to see them on paper. We are, after all, writing things that turn into binding legislation in the form of an EU directive. Then I find it totally unacceptable that we as legislators should be expected to say yes or no without even having seen the text.

But chairman Vidal-Quadras would not listen this, and considered it sufficient to take it orally. After a lot of pretty chaotic discussions, most of what Lambrinidis had suggested survived, including the word ”prior” and the phrase ”exceptional circumstances”.

When the revised text had been read out aloud, Vidal-Quadras considered it unanimously accepted by the delegation, and he felt that he had a mandate to use that text as the basis for the negotiations with the Council. Philippe Lamberts and I, and also Eva-Britt Svensson, protested that we found it unreasonable to demand that we should give a mandate without even having seen the text in writing. Instead we said that we would come back with our positions the following day, when we had received the text by mail.

After having read the text, my preliminary assessment is that this text is probably better than nothing, although it of course does not contain everything we would have liked.

It contains a ”prior”, and the more I think about it, the more fond I become of the formulation that the cutting people off from the internet could only happen under ”exceptional circumstances”. Nobody could possibly claim that there is anything exceptional about being suspected of file sharing. According to IFPI themselves, there are around 3 million people in Sweden alone we are talking about. ;)

But I also want to stress that the assessment is very preliminary. Right now, I cannot say if it is really a strong enough formulation for me to vote for it if it were to become the final version.

But that is not something I have to decide right now. There is still time for more analysis.

The next step will be another meeting between Parliament’s negotiators and the Council of Ministers on Thursday October 22. Then we’ll see what happens, and how events unfold from there. The next meeting of Parliament’s delegation will be on November 4.

What I can say with certainty is that I think this is a completely absurd way to develop legislation. Complex legal texts being assembled orally under chaotic circumstances, under a chairman who behaves in a way that never would be accepted even at the student council level.

There is an awful lot that needs be improved in this process. To handle things this way is both undignified and dangerous.

But right now, things are like what they are, and we must try to do as much good as we can under the existing circumstances. Nobody said this was going to be easy.

………… … … … …

The picture is free for publication, CC0 by Christian Engström.

Others on the telecoms package (in Swedish): DN, TT, SR

Andra bloggar om: piratpartiet , eu , politik , informationspolitik

9 kommentarer

  1. Excellent work – Christian, whole processed needs to be more transparent and we need more international support.
    Information politics must be a standard, giving everybody (regular people) an opportunity to help.

    We (regular people) must be heard.
    My opinion is that a lot of us don’t want to listen or get involved, because political processes are so darn complicated.

    That’s so sad, that whole process is a role playing among politicians, especially in Council of Minister, that seems to be running an own agenda, all them time.

    Please please continue your work and make us informed.
    You already reforming entire EU, thanks a lot for that!

    I am happy to have spent my vote right!

    Kommentar av Vladi — 23 oktober 2009 @ 13:19

  2. Very good, indeed. I’d like to stress that you should make sure any objection is on the record. If Vidal-Quadras wants to manage the negotiations like this, at least the record should state that you opposed this.

    I’m also surprised to learn that other members of the conciliation committee obviously thinks this is a good way to make legislation. I’m particularly surprised that not all of the other Swedish MEPs would not share your views on procedure, not counting Svensson, which I think is quote reasonable.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 23 oktober 2009 @ 13:42

  3. This is what i really hoped for by getting a pirate i parliament: a politician who writes about the process and let it out for all to see. It is great, because the dirty tricks can´t survive if exposed.

    Kommentar av Jonas Nordgren — 23 oktober 2009 @ 15:30

  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Holmstrom: RT @telecomix: On the EU telecoms package (from the Pirate Party MEP, in English)

    Trackback av uberVU - social comments — 23 oktober 2009 @ 18:51

  5. […] Originally posted here: Chaotic delegation meeting on the telecoms package « Christian … […]

    Pingback av Chaotic delegation meeting on the telecoms package « Christian … — 23 oktober 2009 @ 20:57

  6. […] European Parliament’s delegation to the Telecoms Package conciliation process had a stormy meeting last Tuesday. It then adopted a text to serve as the basis for the continued negotiations with the Council of […]

    Pingback av The Hadopi test for the Telecoms Package « Christian Engström, Pirate MEP — 24 oktober 2009 @ 10:09

  7. Why do EU have a such mandate – can´t they just calm down with FN?!

    Kommentar av SNAGGEL — 28 oktober 2009 @ 3:03

  8. […] again ignoring the opinions of over 400 MEPs. Then, when the negotiators met with the Council they only discussed this proposal, not the original Amendment 46, ignoring the mandate given to them by the delegation. Christian […]

    Pingback av The Telecoms Package – a failure for democracy « The Fat Controller — 3 november 2009 @ 4:32

  9. […] again ignoring the opinions of over 400 MEPs. Then, when the negotiators met with the Council they only discussed this proposal, not the original Amendment 46, ignoring the mandate given to them by the delegation. Christian […]

    Pingback av The Telecoms Package – a failure for democracy « UnlikelyPython — 16 januari 2011 @ 7:08

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