OPP Meeting Summary: EP JURI Committee – Exchange of views with Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, as part of the Structured Dialogue (19 June 2017)

A summary of the Committee’s exchange of views is now available.

EP JURI Committee – 19 June 2017
Exchange of views with Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Digital Single Market in the context of the structured dialogue between Parliament and the Commission

Vice-President Andrus Ansip made the following remarks

  • he thanked the Committee for its work on the legislative files that had been presented under the Digital Single Market (‘DSM’) strategy, in particular wholesale roaming markets and cross-border portability
  • online platforms was one of the areas identified in the mid-term review of the DSM strategy that needed further consideration. Small businesses were unable to negotiate with big platforms, and the Commission wanted to address unfair business practices. The Commission also wanted to clarify the notice-and-action principle because Member States (‘MS’) such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom were already addressing issues such as hate speech in national legislation. The notice-and-action principle would have to be clarified in line with the E-commerce Directive, and he stressed that the Commission wanted to protect freedom of expression and of speech;
  • data economy issues also needed to be addressed, especially on forceful data localisation;
  • the Commission had published a cybersecurity strategy in 2013, but it needed to be revised. Cyber criminals were acting like an industry, and they had created botnets using connected devices that were able to attack global service providers. Cybersecurity needed to be addressed “much more seriously” and there was a need for a global approach on standards for the Internet of Things;
  • operational capabilities in the EU was another focus area. Smaller MS were relying on Europol and CERT-EU, but CERT-EU was staffed by only 30 people and needed to expand in order to be able to offer 24/7 services;
  • he stated the proposed Directive on copyright in the DSM constituted an “ambitious step forward”. It supported cultural diversity, facilitated access to and use of digital content, and established clear rules for all market players. The Commission had struck the right balance between Internet users, rightsholders and service providers. He counted on the Committee to preserve this balance;
  • he drew attention to several issues in the proposal:
    • regarding the text and data mining (‘TDM’) exception, he stated that the beneficiaries were limited to research organisations but that it did not prohibit these organisations from working with commercial organisations in public-private partnerships. There was no need to extend the scope to commercial companies because they could already obtain a license for TDM;
    • on press publishers, he stated that in order to enhance the sustainability of the sector, publishers needed to be given the right tools to negotiate licensing. He stressed that the Commission’s proposal made clear that there would be no taxation of hyperlinks;
    • regarding value gaps, he stated that he understood the need to create an environment in which creators were fairly remunerated for their content. Rightsholders needed to have a say on which user created content services their works were uploaded to; they needed to be able to negotiate fair remuneration for the distribution of their works, and users should not be prohibited from uploading and sharing their own content. The responsibilities of platforms needed to be clarified. The Commission was willing to work with the European Parliament on these issues;
  • the rules on the exercise of copyright for broadcasting proposal, the Commission wanted European citizens to be able to have the choice of television and radio programmes from different MS in order to benefit from European cultural diversity. The Commission proposal would enable this, while ensuring proper remuneration for rightsholders;
  • through the application of the country-of-origin principle, the Commission wanted to facilitate the possibility of a wider choice for consumers and offer new opportunities for broadcasters;
  • he stressed that the proposal did not restrict contractual freedom of broadcasters and rightsholders. They would remain free to contractually limit the distribution of content to certain territories, provided that the applicable rules are respected;
  • on the digital content proposal, Ministers had agreed on a general approach in the June Justice and Home Affairs Council. The upcoming Estonian Presidency of the Council was keen on making swift progress on the file and he stated that he saw “political momentum for full harmonisation for consumer protection” on this;
  • on the online sales of goods proposal, he stated that the Estonian Presidency was planning discussions on the scope of the proposal in the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in July. This should begin substantive discussions on the proposal;
  • targeted full harmonisation was necessary in the digital contracts proposals. He stressed that this was necessary if the EU wanted to deliver tangible results to consumers and businesses;
  • on the ePrivacy Regulation proposal, he stated that the Commission was aware of the different opinions emerging from the European Parliament Committees. This showed that a wide range of stakeholders had been consulted. He believed that the Commission’s proposal struck the right balance between a high level of privacy and allowing businesses to grow and innovate.

Evelyn Regner (S&D)

  • she raised the issue of digital headquarters. There was no national or European definition, and she asked whether the Commission was planning to define what constituted a digital place of business.

Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • a number of organisations had criticised the German proposal on hate speech. A spokesperson from the Commission had stated that it would not intervene in the matter, and she asked whether the Commission would fully investigate the proposal in the notification procedure;
  • on TDM, she stated that it would be “problematic” if companies had to apply for multiple licenses from rightsholders;
  • on the issue of hyperlinking, she raised the issue of extracts of headlines that were included in the hyperlink and whether people would require a license to copy a newspaper article. In the past, Commissioner Oettinger had said that the answer was yes.

Max Andersson (Greens/EFA, SE)

  • he asked about the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty;
  • he asked whether there would be a proposal from the Commission on the revision of the Intellection Property Rights Enforcement Directive (‘IPRED’).

Mary Honeyball (S&D, UK)

  • the power of some online platforms such as Google had increased over the past years. She stated that there was a need to limit what these platforms were able to do and that the Commission was going in the right direction on this;
  • she also agreed with the Commission on its approach to the value gap;
  • she asked Vice-President Ansip to expand on the Commission’s position on geo-blocking and the country-of-origin principle. She stated that territoriality was the business model on which the broadcasting industry worked and that high value productions would be affected in territoriality was changed.

Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU)

  • the Committee had drafted a report on the implications of robotics. She stated that she had been disappointed by the response of the Commission because it had agreed with the Committee’s analysis but did not propose any concrete action on the issue;
  • she raised the issue of liability and stressed that there was a need for a harmonised EU approach before national legislation could be implemented otherwise “we will run, as always, behind the developments”. She asked whether there would be a Commission proposal on liability before the end of the year.

Axel Voss (EPP, DE) 

  • legislative proposals were becoming increasingly interlinked, and he stated that he had the impression that different sections of the Commission were working on these issues without cooperating amongst themselves. He stated that the Commission should work more “holistically”; 
  • he encouraged the Commission to be bold on cybersecurity because it directly affected user trust;
  • he stated that “people were still trying to capture the digital world by imposing analogue structures”. 

Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann (S&D)

  • she asked if Vice-President Ansip could comment on the Sky competition case and what consequences it might have on the geo-blocking proposal.

Vice-President Andrus Ansip made the following remarks

  • he stated that he did not yet have a definition on digital headquarters and that it was too early to comment on the draft German legislation on hate speech. The Commission reserved the right to formulate an opinion on it when it was necessary to do so;
  • regarding TDM, he stated that the issue was also about “political realities” and what was achievable. The Commission’s proposal was extremely liberal;
  • content in hyperlinks was already protected and he did not see the reason for further discussions on hyperlinking because the existing case law was sufficient;
  • the Commission was planning to review and launch proposals on IPRED, but it was also keen on facilitating self-regulatory measures;
  • regarding liability, it was a part of discussions about the data economy and the free flow of data. He stated that the Commission was planning present proposals on the free flow of data in September 2017;
  • approaches to data ownership were varied. Siemens wanted to access and use data but not own it, unlike TomTom which wanted to own the data, and he was not confident on when the Commission would present proposals on liability;
  • on data protection, he stated that the ePrivacy Regulation proposal aimed to harmonise data protection rules across the EU because the implementation of the current ePrivacy Directive was not consistent. The Commission also wanted to create a level playing field between telecommunications operators and over-the-top services;
  • regarding geo-blocking, the Commission was taking a step-by-step approach, and the abolishing of roaming charges was one such step. He did not believe that the Sky competition case would have a substantial impact.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the European Parliament serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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