By Dow Jones Business News,
February 24, 2014, 05:05:00 PM EDT
BRUSSELS--European Union parliamentarians unexpectedly delayed voting on the proposal for a single telecoms market,
citing a technicality that amendments to the legislation hadn't been translated fully, as some lawmakers expressed
doubts about net neutrality.
The proposal was put forward by the bloc's executive arm last year.
The Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Research and Energy had been set to vote Monday evening, determining how the
parliament as a whole would vote in the April plenary session. While this timetable can still be met, lawmakers will
have time to review amendments again before the committee votes again--possibly later this week or likely next month.
Europe's biggest telecommunications companies have been pushing against provisions in the proposed European law aimed
at enforcing net neutrality, a principle that Internet providers shouldn't discriminate against traffic from particular
sources. They want to be able to charge users for newer, faster services. In a parallel debate in the U.S., telecom
companies are likely to push the Federal Communications Commission to allow them to charge some websites to deliver
content at higher quality.
"It's clear the proposal, when it comes to net neutrality, is not sufficient," because it allows telecoms companies to
prioritize certain Internet traffic, German green parliamentarian Jan-Philipp Albrecht told The Wall Street Journal
after the vote had been postponed. "We need to safeguard the public good of information flow," especially as the
telecoms network was originally built with state subsidies throughout much of Europe.
Still, he added, it would be good to get EU rules on net neutrality, roaming and other areas of telecoms completed, he
added, saying the committee could still decide before the April plenary.
Reacting to the postponement of the vote on the proposal for a single telecoms market, the EU commissioner for the
digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, who proposed the legislation, said she is confident that the postponement won't distract
the committee members from their vote on this important proposal.
"It is clear that there is majority support for the package, and that the package is a "win-win" for all the different
parties," she said. "This postponement only increases the energy I will put into delivering this package! Moving towards
a telecoms single market is crucially important for our economy and for citizen's rights."
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