Implementation of the Copyright Directive5. März 2021
Dear President von der Leyen,
Dear Executive Vice President Vestager,
Dear Commissioner Breton,
We are writing to you to express our surprise about recent reports of a meeting between Members of the European Parliament, select Member States and representatives of the Commission to discuss the Commission’s pending guidance on the implementation of certain elements of Article 17 of Directive 790/2019 (DSM Copyright Directive).
We fully support the way the Commission’s services have handled the organisation of the stakeholder dialogue in line with its obligations under Article 17(10) of Directive 790/2019. From what we have been able to observe, the Commission has conducted this process in a very professional and diligent manner, fully in line with its role as the steward of the legislative compromise achieved at the end of the last parliamentary term.
We realise that this task has not been an easy one, not only because of the extremely controversial nature of the issues at hand, but also because of the limitations that the ongoing health emergency has meant for the organisation of multi-stakeholder processes. In this context, we want to highlight the exemplary level of transparency of the process, which has been fully documented online allowing all interested parties to stay fully informed about the proceedings. After the conclusion of the physical meetings, the Commission’s services have continued their commitment to the transparency of the process by submitting a draft version of the guidance to written consultation by all stakeholders.
It is in the light of this exemplary level of transparency that we want to express our concern about last week’s meeting that sharply contrasts with the conduct of the stakeholder dialogues.
As mentioned the Commission, during the past months, showed an exemplary level of transparency, which could be tainted by such meetings. Under no circumstances should the Commission be influenced behind closed doors regarding the outcomes of a multi-stakeholder process that was mandated by legislation. Article 17 (10) of the DSM Copyright Directive clearly spells out the special importance “of the need to balance fundamental rights and of the use of exceptions and limitations”.
The criticism levelled at the Commission position is largely based on a selective reading of the final legislative compromise that seeks to exclude or downplay central provisions of the legislative text designed to protect the fundamental rights of internet users, most notably their freedom of expression and information. So far, the Commission has consistently pointed out the shortcomings of such selective interpretations, including in its intervention in Case C-401/19 in front of the CJEU in November 2020, and has instead focused its attention on reconciling the conflicts between the different fundamental rights at stake.
We sincerely hope that the Commission will keep following its course and firmly reject any undue interference in the guidance process.
We understand that the guidance is essentially complete and in final phases of internal coordination. We therefore call on the Commission to focus on publishing the guidance, which must be made available to Member States as soon as possible for them to be able to take it into account in their national implementations. Numerous Member States have been delaying their implementations in anticipation of the guidance, and with less than four months to go until the implementation deadline, any further delays of the guidance endanger the ability of the Member States to meet the implementation deadline.
Tiemo Wölken, Socialists and Democrats
Rasmus Andresen, Greens/EFA
Brando Benifei, Socialists and Democrats
Patrick Breyer, Greens/EFA
Alexandra Geese, Greens/EFA
Petra Kammerevert, Socialists and Democrats
Moritz Körner, Renew Europe
Karen Melchior, Renew Europe
Martina Michels, The Left
Birgit Sippel, Socialists and Democrats