Ask EP By / January 7, 2016

Net neutrality

Citizens have written to the European Parliament with regard to the regulation on a European single market for electronic communications,…

Tomasz Zajda / Fotolia

Citizens have written to the European Parliament with regard to the regulation on a European single market for electronic communications, asking in particular about the implications for net neutrality.

The European Parliament has continuously underlined the need to strengthen the governance of the digital single market and to enshrine net neutrality as a regulatory principle, stressing also the link between net neutrality and the fundamental freedoms and underlining the need for consumer protection.

European single market for electronic communications

Network Safety Concept - Net Neutrality
Tomasz Zajda / Fotolia

In this context, the European Parliament approved on 27 October 2015 the Council position regarding the Telecoms Single Market Regulation which includes, inter alia, new rules to safeguard open internet access in the European Union (EU).

This Regulation establishes common rules to safeguard equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic in the provision of internet access services and related end-users’ rights. Providers of internet access services must not block or slow delivery of content, applications or services from selected senders or to selected receivers, unless this is necessary to obey court orders, comply with laws, prevent network congestion or combat cyber-attacks.

The agreement reached also includes provisions for a complete ban on roaming fees for mobile voice telephony, text messaging and using the mobile internet abroad in the EU and in EEA countries from 15 June 2017.

Procedure of this legislative file

The European Commission submitted in September 2013 a regulatory proposal laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent. The Parliament adopted its first reading position on 3 April 2014, incorporating a definition of ‘net neutrality’ as the principle according to which all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender, recipient, type, content, device, service or application.

On 2 September 2014 the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) took the decision to open inter-institutional negotiations. The first trilogue took place on 23 March 2015. The Parliament’s and Council’s negotiating teams, with the participation of the European Commission, reached an informal agreement on the file on 30 June 2015, in which it was agreed to have the first EU-wide open internet rules. MEPs inserted guarantees that all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination, in order to enshrine the principle of net neutrality into EU law. The Industry committee confirmed this deal on 15 July 2015. More information is available on the EP press release issued on 15 July 2015, in the Council’s press release and in the Commission’s ‘question and answers’ fact sheet.

The Council confirmed the agreement reached on 1 October 2015 and the European Parliament endorsed the agreement following the debate in plenary on 27 October 2015, in line with the recommendation by its ITRE Committee.

Further information

More information on Parliament’s decision is available in the press release of 27 October 2015, in the European Parliamentary Research service (EPRS) briefing ‘The EU rules on network neutrality‘ and in the corresponding procedure file.

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