Leak: Damning analysis of Kroes' attack on net neutrality
Fundamental rights are at risk from the draft Regulation on the "completion of the European single market for electronic communications" that may be finally approved by the European Commission this lunchtime. This is made clear from a leaked internal document (pdf) of the European Commission.
There is huge opposition in the European Commission to the assault on net neutrality, with opposition both from within Kroes' own services and from across the Commission. In the past days, the draft Regulation was the subject of extensive and heated debates in internal meetings.
Unsurprisingly, two services of the European Commission are leading the attacks on the current draft:
The Directorate-General for Justice and Fundamental Rights (DG Justice) harshly criticised Kroes' proposals that would, as we have reported previously, bring about the exact contrary of net neutrality. Above all, DG Justice is concerned about the inevitable restrictions on freedom of communication of European citizens.
To quote from the leaked document: "Furthermore, we consider that such limited possibilities of accessing Internet content and services of their choice would run counter to the stated objectives of Article 38 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, whereby EU policies must ensure a high level of consumer protection"
The Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry (DG Enterprise) is concerned about the effect on European entrepreneurs. Ironically, the opposition from DG Enterprise reflects the concerns that Kroes herself has expressed in the very recent past, before she caved in to pressure from certain sectors of industry. She can hardly be surprised that the Enterprise Commissioner is fighting her attack on net neutrality - it is only two months since she warned that an attack on net neutrality would be "a death sentence for innovators".
The document from DG Justice proves beyond doubt that the Commission would be adopting the proposal in the full knowledge that it is in breach of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, on 3 May 2010, Kroes and the whole College of Commissioners made history when they were the first Commissioners to take a solemn and personal oath to uphold the Charter.