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What does the new EU Parliament mean for tech?

Jennifer Baker | May 27, 2014
Pirates out, digital rights to the fore

"Copyright is only high on Pirates' agenda, and they've gone down to one seat, so will have little impact," said copyright blogger Glynn Moody on Twitter. "I think we will see a slow rise in interest in this area, as evidenced by WePromiseEU, but only slowly."

The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, is currently analyzing thousands of comments to its consultation for new copyright legislation, which will be proposed to the new Parliament for debate.

"The debate in this Parliament will be dominated by largely new voices, on both sides: neither pro-copyright MEPs such as Marielle Gallo and Arlene McCarthy nor antis such as Pirate representatives Christian Engström and Amelia Andersdotter were re-elected," said Ross Biggan, director of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe.

As vote counting comes to an end, it appears that the European People's Party (EPP) is still the largest political group in the Parliament, while the Socialist and Democrats (S&D) held on to their number two spot -- though both parties ended up losing seats. Meanwhile Anti-EU groups, which support a rolling back of the authority of pan-European institutions, gained seats.

"In general it may be harder for the Commission to pitch ambitious harmonization projects to a Parliament which is feeling anti-EU, but if something can be coherently articulated across so many different flavors of Euro-hostility, it could become a credible political voice," Biggan said.

For the first time the European Parliament parties are putting forward candidates for the presidency of the European Commission -- a role that will become vacant in October. Up to now the heads of state of the EU countries named the Commission president, and the Parliament essentially approved without debate whoever was named.

Now however, Parliamentary groups are naming their own candidates, and demanding that the heads of state choose an EU Commission president from among these candidates. Parliamentarians insist they will vote to approve only a candidate who has been suggested by one of the Parliamentary groups.

There is no guarantee that the heads of state will nominate a candidate from the leading Parliamentary groups. Nonetheless both the EPP's candidate, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the S&D's candidate, Martin Schulz, expressed strong support for European data privacy principles. Both also talked tough on reaching data-sharing agreements with the U.S.

"I would inherently demand from the U.S. that they accept our privacy standards," Schulz said.

Juncker said that he wouldn't negotiate on data privacy. "If a company has its headquarters in Silicon Valley and does business in Europe, then European rules must apply," he said.

However, neither Juncker nor Schulz signed the WePromiseEU initiative. Whoever does get the top job will have a huge influence over the laws of the EU in the coming years.


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