Amendment 138 dead by lack of courage of the Parliament

Strasbourg, October 21st, 2009 - Yesterday, representatives of the European Parliament, an institution that ordinarily prides itself for protecting human rights at home and abroad, decided to surrender to the pressure exerted by Member States. The Parliament gave up on amendment 138, a provision adopted on two occasions by an 88% majority of the plenary assembly, and which aims at protecting citizens' freedom in the online world. Instead of ensuring that no restriction to Internet access would be imposed without the prior ruling of a judge, amendment 138 will instead be replaced by a weak provision1, that does not carry any new important safeguard for citizen's freedoms.

With this retreat, the European Parliament, who regularly boasts itself about its credentials in the field of human rights, has endorsed the false idea that it had no power in protecting their constituents' rights under current rules. This decision was taken consciously by rapporteur Catherine Trautmann, in order not to risk a confrontation with the Council of EU and to quickly finish with the Telecoms Package. She, along with the rest of the Parliament delegation deliberately ignored existing texts and case law pointing to the fact that it had the competence to adopt the core principles of amendment 1382. They didn't even try to reword the original amendment in order to preserve its initial objective.

“Amendment 138 was in haste dissolved into useless legalese and soft consensus. The Parliament hurried to get rid of the safeguards of citizens' freedoms because it knew that with the imminent coming into effect of the Lisbon treaty, both institutions will soon share the legislative power in the field of judicial affairs. And the bad excuses we have heard these past few days to justify to abandon amendment 138 will then be totally obsolete. In the end, the Parliament was not brave enough to stand against the Council to defend citizens' freedoms.”, explains Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.

“Ministers of Member States, who want to be able to regulate the Net without interference from the judiciary, were rushing to kill amendment 138 and put an end to the negotiations. It is a shame that the Parliament's delegation, and especially rapporteur Catherine Trautmann, was not determined enough to use the political context to assert its authority in the European lawmaking process in order to protect European citizens. Even though it has been an interesting and constructive discussion, amendment 138 has turned, by the lack of courage of the delegation, into the emblem of the powerlessness of the Parliament.”, concludes Zimmermann.