Sweden welcomes EU telecoms vote

Sweden’s EU parliamentary delegation is rejoicing following a decision by the body to toss out a proposal that would have banned file sharers from the internet and forced internet service providers to filter content in the hunt for pirated material.

“What’s important about this decision is that now it’s clear that you can’t force [internet service] providers to ban people from the internet without a legal process,” said Moderate Party EU parliamentarian Christofer Fjellner to the TT news agency.

Fjellner had been a fierce opponent of the proposal, which was part of a larger reform package passed by the EU parliament on Wednesday to boost competition in the EU telecoms sector.

While many of the proposed reforms were welcomed by the EU parliament because they were seen to benefit consumers, the proposal regarding file sharing was quite controversial, prompting a furious effort by EU parliamentarians from both ends of Sweden’s political spectrum to jettison the proposal.

Eva-Britt Svensson of the Left Party also sits in the EU parliament and succeeded in moving the body to support an amendment requiring a legal process in suspected file sharing cases.

Nevertheless, she believes there is still reason to be concerned.

“This is a technically complicated proposal and the industry has been lobbying so hard, so I’m not exactly sure if they’ve succeeded in getting in something significant,” she said to TT.

The comprehensive and complex telecoms reform package includes a wide range of measures designed to make it easier to compare prices, to retain one’s phone number when switching from one telecom provider to another, and to increase competition between directory services.

It also calls for the creation of a European telecoms agency.

While the amended proposal has made it through this stage of the EU legislative process, there is still room for changes later this autumn when the various national telecoms ministers from the EU’s 27 member states review the bill.