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Reda: "You'll wish the mails had all come from bots."

Am 6. März 2019 - 20:11 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The way is clear for the final vote of the European Parliament on the copyright reform. On 27 February, a majority of its Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted in favour of the negotiated compromise. However, EU citizens' criticism of the plan is growing louder and louder - just before the European elections.

Approval by JURI no surprise

The EU Council of Ministers had already approved the compromise on 20 February. At that time, there was a short-lived hope that Germany would withhold its approval. In the end, however, the responsible Federal Minister of Justice Katharina Barley (SPD) bowed to the word of command of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU/CSU).

There was no doubt from the outset that the legal committee would approve the bill a week later. 16 of the 25 members finally voted for the compromise. Among them were all representatives of the conservative EPP and the liberal ALDE parliamentary groups. While the three members of the Green/EFA Group all voted against the compromise, the six members of the social democratic S&D Group were split right in the middle.

Young generation makes copyright reform a campaign issue

This does not, however, allow conclusions to be drawn about the outcome of the vote in the plenary of the European Parliament. The reason for this is the elections to the European Parliament on 26 May. So far, numerous media houses have largely hushed up plans to reform EU copyright law or, for their own good, have spread half-truths to bare lies. But more and more young Europeans in particular are recognising the fatal consequences that an ancillary copyright for press publishers (Article 11) and an obligation for platforms to install an upload filter (Article 13) would actually have. Many of them will take part in an election to the European Parliament for the first time in May.

CDU makes itself unpopular

In Germany, the EU's most populous country and thus the country with the highest number of MEPs, criticism of the reform plans is particularly loud. In social media the hashtags #NieMehrCDU and #niewiederCDU (both #CDUneveragain) have spread like wildfire. The reason for this is that some members of the CDU, one of Germany's ruling paries, have excelled with their ignorance and incompetence:

EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger (CDU), of course, will make the start, as he took the side of the press publishers and rights exploiters early on and worked out the first version of the directive. Axel Voss (CDU), as rapporteur of the European Parliament, has ignored all well-founded criticism and has pushed the directive through. Heribert Hirte (CDU) refused to enter into an argumentative debate simply by referring to his larger number of followers in a now deleted tweet. And Sven Schulze (CDU) actually believes that it was not politically committed citizens who wrote him by e-mail but bots from Google.

But that's not all. For fear of a bad election result the EVP frontrunner Manfred Weber (CDU) made a formal request to reschedule the parliamentary vote to 12 March. The vote was actually planned for the end of March or beginning of April. The background to this request is to pre-empt the numerous demonstrations announced in Europe on 23 March. As a reaction to this project, spontaneous demonstrations took place in several German cities, including in front of the CDU party headquarters in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Manfred Weber asserted in an ARD interview that the vote would take place at its original date. According to MEP Julia Reda (Greens/EFA), the application has not yet been withdrawn. [Update 6.3.2019, 17:32: The EPP has withdrawn its request after no other politcal group wanted to to support it.]

Harmful to the EU

Even the mere attempt to silence the voices of EU citizens in a deceitful and precautionary manner is pure poison to the necessary cohesion within the European Union. The same applies to plain lies about the copyright reform spread by EU institutions. For example, the German Twitter account of the European Parliament propagates the claim that the directive does not affect freedom of expression. But even Axel Voss admitted in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt that "freedom of expression [will] sometimes [be] restricted" because of the proposed rules.

Apart from that, it is not the Parliament's job to take sides before a vote has taken place and thus make a recommendation. One would not suspect such an approach in a democracy. That is why actions like this are not only relevant to the debate on copyright reform, but also far beyond it. Because #CDUneveragain can quickly become #EUneveragain, as Friedhelm Greis forecasts in his article on Golem.de. This would benefit anti-European parties such as the AfD or the Rassemblement National (formerly Front National).

The young voters' political commitment and commitment, however, still seem to be unchecked and on the rise. If you want to know whether a demonstration against Article 11 and Article 13 will also take place in your city on 23 March, you can find out at safetheinternet.info.

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