Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

  • Last August, protesters in Innsbruck showed their fears over unintended consequences of the EU's copyright reform (Photo: Arbeitskreis Vorratsdaten)

The 751 members of the European Parliament are due to make up their minds on how to reform the EU's copyright regime by Wednesday (12 September) - but they are faced with a complex issue, several hundred amendments, and two opposed but intensive lobby campaigns.

One side argues that the bill could kill off freedom of expression online, while the other says that creators are at risk of exploitation by big internet platforms.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The current EU copyright rules date from 2001, which some would argue is the pre-history in internet terms. How to ensure fair remuneration for creators while protecting online expression, is the MEPs' main task. (Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg)

"From what I know there is a huge split even within the groups," said Jan Krelina, spokesman for the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.

"There are lot of amendments flying around, so it is a complicated situation," he noted.

Last Friday (7 September), Krelina gave a briefing ahead of parliament's Strasbourg week in a press conference, flanked by his colleagues from the other groups – except for the anti-EU Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group, which often is absent from such briefings.

The plenary will discuss the issue on Tuesday, before voting on Wednesday.

Kreilna said that the ECR, the third-biggest group in the parliament with 73 members, would try to arrive at a single position, but would need until Tuesday evening to decide.

Other group spokespersons also could not guarantee that their members would stick to a party line.

"I think it is fair to say that every single group is split," said Ben Leung, spokesman for the far-left GUE/NGL group.

"It is a complex issue. I do believe there are different opinions within our group, but ... it is up to them to decide," said Tom Vandendriessche, referring to the 35 MEPs of the far-right Europe of Nations and Freedom.

Wednesday's vote will determine the parliament's position on a text proposed by the European Commission two years ago this week – on 14 September 2016.

A draft version of the parliament's list of proposed changes was drawn up by centre-right German MEP Axel Voss in the parliament's legal affairs committee.

In July, Voss asked whether he could take that text to the representatives of the EU's national governments, to hammer out a final deal about the copyright directive.

But a majority of MEPs determined that they wanted to have the opportunity to add or remove changes known as amendments.

"I don't think things changed a lot from July until now," said Lucian Goleanu, spokesman for the Liberal group, adding that predicting the outcome would be very difficult.

Lada Jurica, spokeswoman for the European People's Party (EPP), noted that a majority of the 218 EPP members sided with Voss last time.

"Considering the clarifications that Mr Voss has made, I expect an even larger proportion in the group will support Voss," said Jurica.

The centre-left Socialists & Democrats will discuss the issue amongst themselves on Monday and Tuesday, according to spokesman Tim Allan.

"We are still looking at all the amendments to come up with a final position," he said.

French Green MEP Michele Rivasi told EUobserver last week that the problem of copyright was "more complex" than it was being portrayed by some.

She spoke after a press conference about the approval process of herbicides like glyphosate.

"We are not in the same debate as glyphosate. It is not [about] scientific expertise, it's [about your] social and political view," Rivasi noted.

One indication of the faultlines not running perfectly along group lines, was the number of amendments proposed by groups of MEPs of different political groups.

"It's a crossparty cooperation on several amendments," said Goleanu.

Trust the expert

These amendments can contain technical language, and so there is fear of unintended consequences.

This gives considerable power to the MEPs who followed the issue on behalf of their group in the legal affairs committee.

In the largest group, the EPP, that would be Axel Voss.

"Our rapporteur is a good lawyer. I will follow his judgement," said Belgian MEP Ivo Belet, who was trained as an economist.

Bas Eickhout, Dutch MEP for the Greens, had a similar approach.

"It is a very technical file," he noted.

"To a large degree I trust Julia, our pirate, who knows everything about this," he said, referring to MEP Julia Reda, the parliament's only Pirate Party member.

20,000 emails

But there may also be MEPs who are swayed by the arguments of lobbyists.

There has been no shortage of email campaigns arguing in one direction or the other.

On one side are the publishers and creators, and on the other online platforms like Google and Wikipedia.

"It is a fight between two powerful groups," said the ECR's Krelina.

"One assistant told me they were receiving 20,000 emails from eight o'clock to twelve o'clock - which is quite a large quantity and difficult to reply," he added.

MEPs side with Fry over McCartney on copyright

The European Parliament decided to take more time studying proposed changes to the EU's copyright regime, amidst fears of 'upload filters' - and accusations of scaremongering.

Focus

Copyright file moves to pro-digital commissioner

Following a reshuffle, Estonian commissioner Ansip temporarily takes over the file from German Guenther Oettinger, who is seen as more friendly towards copyright holders.

Focus

EU targets Google in copyright reform

Publishers welcomed EU proposals for a new right that could see them take a bite out of Google's income, but some say the law could end up hurting Google's smaller rivals.

News in Brief

  1. EU commission threatens disciplinary procedure on Italy's budget
  2. MEPs delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Interpol rejects Russian candidate after outcry
  4. Investors seek compensation for Danske Bank losses
  5. Analysis: one-in-four Europeans vote populist
  6. Italy moves to seize Aquarius for illegal waste disposal
  7. EU parliament approves Italian to check European banks
  8. EU agrees tightening rules on foreign strategic investment

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  9. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  10. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  11. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue

Latest News

  1. Revealed: 98% of EU 'expert groups' take place in private
  2. EU commission warns Italy on budget, moves towards fines
  3. Challenges for new Franco-German eurozone plan
  4. EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection
  5. Deutsche Bank dragged into Danish bank scandal
  6. New EU human rights sanctions to focus on Africa
  7. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  8. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  2. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us