Tuesday

26th Jan 2021

France defies EU parliament on internet law

In defiance of the European Parliament, the French lower house has approved a law that has widely been described as the most aggressive attempt to counter internet piracy yet.

The 'three-strikes' law that would cut off internet access to users found to be repeatedly downloading copyright content without the permission of the owner was passed by 296 votes to 233 in what is the government's second attempt to push through the bill.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • France has passed legislation that falls afoul of the European Parliament's position (Photo: Lee Jordan)

The legislation, which creates a new government agency, the Hadopi ( the Haute Autorite pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet, or High Authority for the Diffusion of Works and the Protection of Rights on the Internet), which first sends a web-surfer an email warning, then a letter through the post and, finally, as the third 'strike,' can interrupt his internet access for up to a year.

The bill, a flagship piece of legislation for President Nicholas Sarkozy, whose wife is a pop star, was defeated last month when deputies from the governing centre-right UMP failed to turn up to vote in sufficient numbers and the opposition Socialists managed to quash it.

However, in a move targetting the French three-strikes law, last week, the European Parliament approved an amendment to a major piece of telecommunications legislation specifically outlawing the ability of governments to cut off internet access without first receiving a court order.

The European bill including the amendment must still be endorsed by the Council of Ministers, representing the EU member states, when telecoms ministers meet on 12 June.

Such an endorsement is unlikely to be forthcoming, kicking passage of the entire package into the long grass, as further negotiations between the parliament and the Council will take months.

However, the author of the amendment, French Socialist MEP Guy Bono, said on Tuesday evening he intends to ask the European Commission, which has consistently backed the parliament's position, to launch legal action against Paris for "not respecting [European] community legistion."

"While the [three-strikes bill] was rejected last week by 88 percent of European deputies, the French National Assembly has bent itself to the will of the president by adopting the Creation and Internet law," he said.

"To flatter the ego of the prince," he added, in reference to the French president, "the majority intends to pass a text that it knows quite well to be contrary to community law."

"This shows utter contempt for Europe and its citizens three weeks ahead of the European elections."

Noting that the European bill still has to complete its full legislative procedure, Mr Bono said that the French move nevertheless flouts tradition.

"When two acts are discussed at the same time on both the national and [European] community level, it is good behavior to leave the community act being adopted as a primary.

"And so to avoid any legal uncertainty, in the event of a contradiction between the two laws, it is the European law that takes precedence and the national law that must be modified," he continued.

"If a French constitutional judge does not react, I will ask the European Commission to request the European Court of Justice launch infringement proceedings against the French government for not respecting community law."

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

Opinion

Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep

Ultimately, the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, only unveiled in September, risks reinforcing bottlenecks and misery at the borders, should be thoroughly amended before final agreement.

MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'

MEPs called for a new law guaranteeing workers can 'disconnect' outside work hours, without repercussion. But they also passed a last-minute amendment, calling on the commission to delay any legislation for three years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Giuseppe Conte: scapegoat or Italy's most cunning politician?
  2. Borrell to meet Lavrov, while Navalny behind bars
  3. Too few central and eastern Europeans at top of EU
  4. Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact
  5. EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map
  6. Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep
  7. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  8. Why Russia politics threaten European security

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us