So what to expect from our European Parliament this fall?
It's July and I am nostalgic and happy at the same time for everything that happened to me in the last 12 months. The blog and the Podcast were launched and some of you contacted me with great and positive compliments and some critics that I will consider implementing in the future.
I am saying that because it's summertime and it seems that everyone in Europe is enjoying the summer and are on vacation. Few of us are still in the cities, working during this hot endless summer. The European Parliament is one of the institutions that will resume their activities in September. So what to expect from our European Parliament this fall?
1. The Annual State of the European Union address
First, the Annual State of the European Union address. It is particularly important this year because it will outline the European Union's priorities for next year, thinking ahead of the European Elections in 2019.
The second topic is Copyright. Members want to update the European Union copyright rules for artists and journalists.
The proposal to reform EU copyright was presented by Günther Oettinger shortly before leaving his post as Digital Commissioner. The proposal says that the reason for the reform in EU's copyright is “to reduce the differences between national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works by users across the EU”. This reason would be extremely honorable and helpful for the European market but the problem is that the text proposed is not at all pro-access.
The directives which have been adopted in the area of copyright and related rights provide for a high level of protection for rightholders and create a framework wherein the exploitation of works and other protected subject-matter can take place.
The proposal goes on seeking to limit our ability as internet users to participate in the online community through the use of 1. Censorship machines, that will be responsible for monitoring all posts online and search for copyright violations, 2. a Link tax for news content in which Media conglomerates would be allowed to charge for link sharing and for the traffic coming from search engines such as Google and Bing, and 3. a very narrow exception for text and data mining would curtail how we can share links, upload media and work with data in the academic and business sectors.
This proposal is of utmost priority for us European Union members, as it interferes directly in how we interact dialy with the Internet.
Expected Date: September, 2018.
3. AudioVisual Media
New rules for Audiovisual services will be discussed in the plenary. The reason is because members want better protection for children online and stricter rules for video on demand.
On one side I am excited that the European Parliament is worried about children's content, even tough I am a believer that protecting and restricting children's access to streaming services and content is a parental obligation rather than a government role. When it comes to creating stricter rules for video on demand, I am absolutely against it specially the kind of restrictions our parliament is trying to implement.
First, the revised legislation will apply not only to broadcasters, but also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, as well as to the live streaming on video-sharing platforms. That means video on demand services will have the same treatment as the traditional broadcast system. The problem is that people stopped watching TV not only for one demand possibilities online, but also because of the strict rules regarding what type and genre of content is allowed to be broadcasted. On the internet, users were free to watch whatever they wanted and when was more convenient for them and not for the broadcaster. This new imposition may drive people away from European regulated services and impact negatively on the streaming provider companies, but it seems, our negotiators, don't think like us:
“By applying similar rules to similar services, irrespective of whether the media content is consumed online or offline, we have made EU regulation fit for the digital era. Protecting children and minors has always been a top priority for us. We have now negotiated a level of protection for internet media services similar to that in place for traditional broadcast media. The transparency rules on advertising, and in particular on product placement and sponsorship, now also apply to user-generated content uploaded to video-sharing platforms. This will protect consumers, especially children and minors.”- EP negotiator Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE)
Second,the cultural imposition of at least 30% of content must be European in programmes of TV channels and VOD platforms is absurd. Europe is not the biggest producer of content and its content has little impact on the young generation. The change will limit the introduction of new interesting content from abroad due to a technical limitation of the amount of national content is included on the provider portfolio. For instance, Netflix could not include on its European catalog new content from abroad, if the 30% ratio from its total portfolio is not European. This means more limitations on your personal freedom and choices and I strongly condemn this parliamentary initiative.
We will keep our eyes in this absurd proposal during the Parliament sessions.
4. European Union Telecoms
Members are pushing to improve internet access and lowering the costs of long distance calls inside the EU.
It's not clear though what will be discussed on this topic. My wish is to be the implementation of the next generation of network, such as the 5G, which would allow a fast development of the Internet of Things. This new technology has to arrive with a fair low cost for the Telecom companies in order to be spread quickly and cheaply to the consumers.
Unfortunately we don't know much about this initiative but what we know is that the European Union has done an excellent job in this field pushing Telecom companies to lower their prices and improve their services. One great example of it is the end of international roaming during calls inside European member countries that was introduced last summer. We will have to wait to learn more about this project but so far I am very optimistic about every initiative in this field.
5. Antibiotics for Animals
Parliament will review plans to curb the use of antibiotics in farm animals. The aim is to keep drug resistant bacteria out of the Human food chain.
We all know how the use of antibiotics has increased the bacteria's resistance to old and traditional drugs. That is because the widespread use of antibiotics can improve the bacteria's resistance overtime. The best know method to avoid or minimize the risk of bacteria getting stronger is to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics and that's what the EU Parliament is trying to approve. The EU has one of the best and as a consequence on of the most restrictive rules ans regulations regarding food. This new project won't make it easier to international trade but the aim is to keep the EU community safe and free of the super resistance bacteria.
Last year we heard about a new category of antibiotics that were discovered by a medical research team that could revolutionize and long term resolve the chronic problem we have today with the super resistant bacteria. I hope they will include this subject into discussion.
6. European Solidarity Corps.
Members will vote on creating a European Solidarity Corps, allowing young people to volunteer for projects helping communities. I am a member of the European Solidarity Corps since it was launched in 2015 (I believe, not sure about the exact year). They haven't been very active and there are almost no opportunities to volunteer at this point, but it is a terrific idea that I fully support. I am excited to hear about where this project is going.
The European Solidarity Corps website is:
Also this fall, The European Parliament Awards will host the Lux Film Prize for an European Film on Social and Political issues.
The 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought will be awarded to Human Rights defenders in December.