Today, the European Commission formally presents its plans for a single telecoms market in the European Union. Besides bearing good news, such as lower costs for calls and data, the Commission’s proposals are cause for concern with regard to net neutrality. On the initiative of the Dutch social-liberal party D66, net neutrality in the Netherlands is enshrined in law. This principle should now also be adopted in European law. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to treat all data equally, cannot block any content, must allow for fair competition on the internet, and protect consumers from the abuse of power of major market players. Some essential safeguards of net neutrality are lacking in Commissioner Kroes’ proposal.
Little room for innovation
“The proposal offers too little protection for internet users and does not take into account the public interest of the open internet. Allowing companies to make deals to provide faster internet at higher prices limits the possibilities for new players, whose pockets are not as deep, to emerge. Given the weaker negotiating position of start-ups, innovation can be stifled. And websites of hospitals, libraries and universities cannot afford to pay for higher speeds and will therefore be crowded out of the market”, says Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66).
Guarantee net neutrality
D66/ALDE will do everything in its power to guarantee actual net neutrality for all Europeans. The European digital economy will benefit from net neutrality as well. “The laws we make today have to be future-proof. We already see that more and more internet service providers and content providers are making deals. We need to ensure that these deals do not hurt consumer choice or access to information in the long run. It is essential that major market players cannot abuse their power and that the public interest is served by an open internet.” The European Parliament has made repeated calls to enshrine net neutrality in EU law and will work to improve Commissioner Kroes’ proposals.