The European Parliament will vote at the end of October 2015 on the future of the Internet. As Labour MEPs and members of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, we strongly support the agreement reached with the Council on the Telecom Single Market Regulation (TSM) before the Summer.
This agreement is the end of a long battle that the S&D started many years ago to end EU roaming charges, to break down artificial borders for mobile communications inside the EU and to guarantee the principle of net neutrality by ensuring a strong open internet with non-discriminatory traffic, transparency and clear end-users rights.
Until now, there have been no binding pan-European rules on net neutrality. Only two EU countries (Netherlands and Slovenia) have adopted national laws on net neutrality. With the new EU law, all European countries will have to incorporate rules on net neutrality. Finally, the freedom and the right of European citizens to access or distribute Internet content will no longer depend on country rules in which they live.
Article 3 of the TSM Regulation states:
End-users shall have the right to access and distribute information and content, use and provide applications and services and use terminal equipment of their choice, irrespective of the end-user’s or provider’s location or the location, origin or destination of the service, information or content, via their internet access service.
This article will ensure that, for the first time, the net neutrality principle will be enshrined into 28 national legal systems and will oblige internet service providers across Europe to treat all internet traffic equally without discrimination, restriction or interference and irrespective of the sender and receiver, the content, the applications or services used.
If adopted, the TSM agreement will ensure that internet service providers cannot give paying customers a better service based on price. Less lucrative traffic will need to be treated equally and paid prioritisation will be banned.
The provisions also allow for specialised services to have priority internet access on the condition that they do not harm the open Internet access. Such services can include healthcare services like tele-surgery or remote surgery where a doctor can perform surgery on a patient even though they are not physically in the same location but can advise another doctor via an internet connection.