EU Parliament rejects telecom reform bill

The European Parliament appears to have rejected a telecom reform package because of a single clause aimed at protecting users prosecuted for illegal downloads.

EU legislators on Wednesday voted in favor of three bills but rejected a fourth which contained an amendment that would limit the prosecution of users charged with downloading copyright material.

The Parliament supported the creation of an EU-wide telecom regulator, a plan for re-allocating radio spectrum for LTE and other new technologies, and improving citizens' online privacy rights.

But the single no vote effectively scuppers the reforms and EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said it was up to the EU Council of Ministers on whether agreement could be reached on a new package.

Unnamed sources told the it would take “at least six months” to form a new consensus.

Telecom operators did not comment publicly but were reported to be privately delighted with the rejection of the bill. If passed, it would have seen them subject to a powerful Continent-wide regulator.

Cable industry group Cable Europe said the decision “sent a clear message across Europe on the supremacy of user rights.”

“The cable industry applauds the European Parliament’s support in resisting Member State pressure on the use of graduated response or a ‘three strikes’ provision that sought to cut users’ internet service,” the group said.

“This is ultimately a consumer issue and the European Parliament stood up to be counted on behalf of its citizens and our 70 million European customers,” said Cable Europe’s president Manuel Kohnstamm.

“Europe has chosen to ignore a reflex to police the net in the name of one business model. In the end, there was support to protect the European fundamental right to access information.”