The European Parliament will now be able, in an open debate, to improve the text and defend freedom of expression ahead of the next elections.
—Diego Naranjo, Senior Policy Advisor at EDRi
I wrote recently about the sea of criticism mounting against the Orwellian proposal by the EU for a "Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market" (see "Will the Proposed EU Copyright Directive Irrevocably Damage the Internet?" and "Controversial Copyright Proposal Passes First Step in European Union Parliament"). Yesterday, July 5, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) voted by a slim margin of 318-278 to remove from its Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) the mandate to negotiate with the EU Council the proposed copyright directive as it is currently written.
I again find it peculiar that very few major U.S. news organizations or outlets are reporting on this proposal or its status, but several European media have misleadingly referred to the vote as an outright rejection of the directive. It is not. It was a plenary vote that determined whether JURI would keep its de facto mandate to take the text exactly as it was written as of 21 June into direct negotiations for passage with the EU Council. The infographic at right, provided by EDRi, the European Digital Rights organization, does an excellent job of simplifying the steps involved and illustrating where the 5 July vote fits. You can see another infographic representing the entire process on the 21 June blog post.
On 20 June 2018, Rapporteur MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) and JURI voted to approve the text of the copyright directive as presented. That led to the plenary vote before Parliament yesterday.
What has been rejected is not the copyright directive itself, but only the text as currently worded. If the vote yesterday had gone to the yeas rather than the nays, there would have been no further discussions and JURI would have then proceeded to the next step, which would have been negotiations with Parliament/Council near the end of this year to finalize passage.
All 751 MEPs will now get a chance to scrutinise this copyright reform and table amendments, before the original JURI report and these amendments are being put up to a vote in the September Plenary session of the European Parliament, which takes place in the week of 10 September.
—from SaveYourInternet, by Copyright for Creativity, a coalition based in Brussels
The 5 July vote removes that mandate from JURI, and now allows Parliamentarians to debate merits and suggest changes to the text of the proposal. This essentially overrides the JURI-stamped version and allows all Members of Parliament the ability to have their voices heard in textual revisions. Many hope that this will include changes to Article 11, and substantial rewrite or even deletion of the most controversial issue, Article 13.
Regarding the vote yesterday, Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), wrote: "This is a big decision in the fight to prevent large-scale and systematic filtering of online content from becoming the norm. The legislative debate urgently needs redirection. The internet must remain a place where consumers can freely share own creations, opinions and ideas. MEPs have a chance to correct a heavily unbalanced report and make copyright work for both consumer and creators." (See press statement, "European Parliament vote paves the way for more consumer-friendly copyright.")
The complete voting breakdown of al 28 European member nations follows. Countries voting to delay passage are shown in green text, those voting for passage in red, and those whose votes negated each other for a zero-sum in gray:
- Austria: 5 for, 8 against, 4 abstentions, 1 non-voter (MEPs present: 17/18)
- Belgium: 10 for, 10 against, 1 non-voter (MEPs present: 20/21)
- Bulgaria: 8 for, 3 against, 1 abstention, 5 non-voters (MEPs present: 12/17)
- Croatia: 5 for, 6 against (MEPs present: 11/11)
- Cyprus: 2 for, 2 against, 1 abstention, 1 non-voter (MEPs present: 5/6)
- Czech Republic: 2 for, 6 against, 8 abstentions, 5 non-voters (MEPs present: 16/21)
- Denmark: 4 for, 8 against, 1 non-voter (MEPs present: 12/13)
- Estonia: 1 for, 5 against (MEPs present: 6/6)
- Finland: 3 for, 9 against, 1 non-voter (MEPs present: 12/13)
- France: 61 for, 8 against, 5 non-voters (MEPs present: 69/74)
- Germany: 36 for, 49 against, 1 abstention, 10 non-voters (MEPs present: 86/96)
- Greece: 8 for, 9 against, 4 non-voters (MEPs present: 17/21)
- Hungary: 10 for, 8 against, 3 non-voters (MEPs present: 18/21)
- Ireland: 3 for, 6 against, 2 non-voters (MEPs present: 9/11)
- Italy: 23 for, 32 against, 1 abstention, 17 non-voters (MEPs present: 56/73)
- Latvia: 5 for, 2 against, 1 non-voter (MEPs present: 7/8)
- Lithuania: 1 for, 6 against, 4 non-voters (MEPs present: 7/11)
- Luxembourg: 4 for, 1 against, 1 non-voter (MEPs present: 5/6)
- Malta: 4 for, 2 against (MEPs present: 6/6)
- Netherlands: 3 for, 17 against, 6 non-voters (MEPs present: 20/26)
- Poland: 0 for, 38 against, 3 abstentions, 10 non-voters (MEPs present: 41/51)
- Portugal: 12 for, 6 against, 1 abstention, 2 non-voters (MEPs present: 19/21)
- Romania: 20 for, 4 against, 2 abstentions, 6 non-voters (MEPs present: 26/32)
- Slovakia: 3 for, 5 against, 5 abstentions (MEPs present: 13/13)
- Slovenia: 1 for, 4 against, 2 abstentions, 1 non-voter (MEPs present: 7/8)
- Spain: 17 for, 17 against, 1 abstention, 19 non-voters (MEPs present: 35/54)
- Sweden: 0 for, 16 against, 4 non-voters (MEPs present: 16/20)
- United Kingdom: 27 for, 29 against, 1 abstention, 16 non-voters (MEPs present: 57/73)
Of note is that the next elections by the current 28 member nations for the Members of the European Parliament will be 23-26 May 2019. The United Kingdom's "European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018" will, as things currently stand, see the UK withdrawn from the EU on 29 March 2019. That would lower the EU member nation count to 27, as well as removing 56 MEPs from the current total of 751.See also:
- The SaveYourInternet website
- The Copyright for Creativity (C4C), a coalition based in Brussels
- The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC)
- VoteWatch Europe, independent reports, analyses, and predictions about European politics