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EU lawmakers criticise Commission’s Plans to eliminate Net Neutrality

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

Today, 54 Members of the European Parliament called on the Commission to consult experts and the public before pursuing plans to end Net Neutrality in the upcoming Connectivity Infrastructure Act. Among the signatories are Renew’s Sophie in ‘t Veld, Internal Market Committee chair Anna Cavazzini, S&D’s Tiemo Wölken, and the Pirate Party’s Patrick Breyer. In the letter the MEPs outline that adopting a model that allows for or mandates access feed would be a disastrous return to the old economic model for telephony, where telecommunications companies and countries leveraged their termination access monopolies to make communication expensive. “We call on you to pursue a better strategy for promoting connectivity in Europe” the MEPs write.

According to statements made by Commissioners Vestager and Breton, Internet access providers could be allowed to require payments from online platforms in the upcoming Connectivity Infrastructure Act. “This kind of access fee would radically abolish the longstanding internet principle of net neutrality, which requires internet service providers to provide access to all sites, content, and applications at the same speed, under the same conditions without blocking or giving preference to any content. By experience access fees risk to make Internet access expensive, slow down or even disrupt access to important Internet services. Pirates fought hard for net neutrality and we will not watch this Commission dismantle it”, explains Patrick Breyer MEP (Pirate Party), one of the letter’s initiators.

Immediately after the draft letter was circulated for signature within the European Parliament, telecoms started to lobby against it.  “Net Neutrality is not at stake when looking at the relationship of ISPs and large content providers” claims Deutsche Telekom in a response to Breyer. According to media reports European Union governments support the Commission’s aim for platform services to “make a fair and proportionate contribution to the costs of public goods, services and infrastructures.”