MEPs accuse Commission of trying to bury bad news.
The European Commission will unveil its proposals for new copyright and telco laws tomorrow afternoon, Ars has learned.
The formal announcement will be made at 3pm (2pm UK time) a few hours after commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union speech. Although no commission official could confirm on the record, Ars understands that Juncker will make certain announcements in relation to the two legislative packages during his speech.
The date of the copyright announcement has caused much controversy. Although leaks of the draft law itself have circulated, the EU executive arm refused point blank to reveal when it would be officially published, leading many to speculate that it was trying to hide the details.
In an email to MEPs on Tuesday, the commission claimed that Wednesday's agenda could not be revealed due to "technical and strategic reasons."
“I've never seen the Commission act this erratically before,” said Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda. “The dates of major legislative reforms are always known weeks in advance. I suspect that the Commission is reacting to the criticism that the leaks have caused by trying to bury the proposal on a busy news day.”
Others called the secrecy and obfuscation in light of so many leaks “unprecedented.” “Why would the commission try to bury good news? It wouldn’t. So it knows that the proposals are a disaster,” said one Brussels lobbyist.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the agenda for digital commissioner Gunther Oettinger, the man in charge of copyright, showed no indication that an announcement would take place.
Update: Shortly after this story was published, Oettinger tweeted that he would indeed present proposals on copyright and broadband on Wednesday.
Last Friday, his department, DG Connect, was forced to do an embarrassing U-turn after Juncker threw out so-called fair use rules aimed at ending mobile phone roaming charges.
“With regard to the timing of the copyright proposals, it is a mess,” said Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake. “I have often seen delays, and the European Parliament has been calling for modernised copyright for years. To now see a moving forward of the release date is remarkable. It is no secret that there are different views within the commission, and I am sure that plays a role. Let´s say I hope lessons have been drawn from publishing contradictory proposals such as the one on roaming, only to see them being rolled back.”
Reda and Schaake, together with MEPs from other political groups on Tuesday called for the commission to ditch its expected plans for ancillary copyright. The proposal met with much criticism following a leak last month.