While Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes was holding, on 12 September, her first press conference following the launch of the telecoms package the day before, BEUC, the consumers' organisation, released a statement arguing that the package failed to address the key challenges ahead. "Manipulating data traffic has become all too frequent among operators. This is why consumers need to have the neutrality of their internet strongly protected. Today's package finally opens the door to more robust action from the EU, but regrettably this initiative falls short. There are too many loopholes to the general protection, which will allow operators to continue to discriminate among data traffic or unduly push their own services," said Monique Goyens, director-general of BEUC.
Responding to criticisms, Kroes pointed out that the package sets an appropriate legal basis that member states need. This package "makes it clear that there must be open internet and access for everyone. There can be no throttling. It is transparent. There is no loophole," she said. The commissioner insisted that national regulators are empowered to monitor and act if an internet service provider (ISP) strays from the rules.
Stakeholders were invited to work with the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council to improve the proposals, she said. "I strongly believe in a dialogue with the co-legislators, this is not something where it is a yes' or no' and it will be a transparent debate," said Kroes.
Cable Europe Executive Chairman Matthias Kurth said in a statement that their member organisations would be actively involved in the next phase of the debate. "It would be favourable if we could reach a common understanding on the principles of net neutrality for all of Europe rather than fragmented legal skirmishes in the member states, which would be a recipe for irritation and confusion. And as regards the open internet, we see a need for a regulatory approach that allows for fair agreements to be made between providers and a business environment that will ultimately allow room for new...