The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
The Commission Communication of 19 April 2011 on "The open internet and net neutrality in
d) The importance of preserving the open character of the Internet and ensuring the
maintenance of a robust best efforts Internet for all while respecting fundamental rights
such as media pluralism, linguistic diversity, freedom of expression and information as
well as freedom to conduct a business;
e) The need to encourage investment in new network infrastructures by both the public and
private sector, without prejudice to the negotiations on the Multi-Annual Financial
Framework, and to allow innovative business models to serve the needs of the market.
a) That, although ICT is fundamental to the running of EU economies across all sectors, the
establishment of a well-functioning competitive digital single market still poses challenges
that need to be addressed;
b) That the open character of the Internet fosters innovation by creating a level playing field
for all actors involved and significantly contributes to the fulfilment of the Digital Agenda
for Europe goals;
c) The existence of some concerns, in regards to
- Discriminatory forms of traffic management and treatment of data, in particular
throttling of data and blocking of content, applications and services;
- Price transparency and quality of service, in particular the discrepancy between
advertised and actual delivery speeds for an Internet connection;
- Network congestion, mainly as a result of growing data streams;
- Sustainability of business models of network operators and Internet service
providers, due to investments needed to adequately respond to the growing
- Personal data protection.
d) The positive steps that can be taken by industry, in consultation with other stakeholders
and in coordination with National Regulatory Authorities, to provide effective transparency
to end users, notably on the scope of their services and on issues such as traffic
management, connection speeds and any restriction placed on data delivery.
a) The need to preserve the open and neutral character of the Internet and consider net
neutrality as a policy objective, which is consistent and interrelated with a number of
policy objectives already identified in article 8 of Directive 2002/21/EC (Framework
Directive) and with the corresponding provisions included in the amended EU Regulatory
Framework for Electronic Communications Networks and Services, namely in aspects
such as the promotion of the ability of end users to access and distribute information or run
applications and services of their choice, the increased transparency in the characteristics
and conditions of the service providers and the powers conferred to National Regulatory
Authorities to impose minimum requirements on quality of service;...
e) The importance of the enforcement by National Regulatory Authorities of the provisions
under the EU Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications Networks and
Services (inter alia article 20 of Directive 2002/21/EC -Framework Directive-, article 5 of
Directive 2002/19/EC -Access Directive-, articles 20, 21 and 22 of Directive 2002/22/EC -
Universal Service Directive-), including promoting the publication of transparent,
comparable, adequate and up-to-date information on applicable prices and tariffs as well as
quality of service;
f) The importance of ensuring efficient transparency, i.e. enabling consumers to make better
and informed choices, particularly through effective implementation of articles 20 and 21
of Directive 2002/22/EC (Universal Service Directive) and the promotion of innovative
g) The importance of addressing the issues of discrimination and degradation of service that
may arise from certain traffic management practices (inter alia blocking, hindering and
restrictive connection and interconnection policies), particularly through effective
implementation of article 22 of Directive 2002/22/EC (Universal Service Directive);
h) The importance of promoting the ability of users to create, distribute and access online
content, applications and services of their choice, as required in Directive 2002/21/EC
i) The importance of the application of the principle of technology neutrality, underlying the
objectives of the EU Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications Networks and
c) The Commission’s commitment to issue a Code of existing EU Online Rights by 2012...
7. INVITES THE COMMISSION TO
a) Encourage its dialogue with Member States and stakeholders on net neutrality while
supporting Member States in ensuring the rapid development of broadband;
b) Monitor, jointly with BEREC, the issue of traffic management to allow for a smooth flow
of proportional, necessary and transparent traffic management practices that do not affect
net neutrality; ...
d) Continue studying, with the support of BEREC's investigations, any aspects of net
neutrality where significant and persistent problems are substantiated, including charges
and conditions that mobile operators impose on VoIP users as well as throttling of content,
applications and services;...
e) Further assess, jointly with BEREC, the discrepancy between advertised and actual
delivery speeds occurring in Member States, and report to the Council and to the European
Parliament on the situation thereof by 2012;
8. INVITES MEMBER STATES TO
a) Encourage the application of the principle of net neutrality and continue their dialogue with
the Commission and stakeholders on the openness of the Internet and net neutrality, taking
into account ongoing analyses;
b) Ensure the open and neutral character of the Internet as their policy objective.
9. INVITES STAKEHOLDERS TO
a) Continue the dialogue with Member States, National Regulatory Authorities, BEREC and
the Commission to further the benefits of an open and innovative Internet;
b) Develop behaviours and economic choices that support an open Internet platform, thus
preventing the exclusion of small players and innovative models, and enabling access to, or
the transmission of, online content, applications and services;
c) Seek wide consensus on the aspects of net neutrality through balanced discussions betweenJust to sum up, they
all participants in the knowledge economy and the Internet and electronic communications
sector, civil society and users' organisations."
- welcome an open & neutral net in Europe
- recognise the importance of net neutrality but accept the maintenance of a robust best efforts Internet for all
- understand the need for network infrastructure development
- understand openness facilitates innovation
- have concerns about discriminatory traffic management, throttling and blocking; price transparency and quality of service; discrepancy between advertised and actual delivery speeds; network congestion; personal data protection.
- underline the need to preserve the open and neutral character of the Internet and for National Regulatory Authorities to address discriminatory anti-neutrality behaviour on the part of network operators
- emphasise the importance of the ability of users to create, distribute and access online
content, applications and services of their choice
- welcome the Commission’s commitment to issue a Code of existing EU Online Rights by 2012
- would like member states to sign up to net neutrality as a policy principle or objective
- encourage public and civil society involvement in policy development
There is no such specific get-out clause for the copyright industries when the Council Conclusions underline "The importance of promoting the ability of users to create, distribute and access online content, applications and services of their choice, as required in Directive 2002/21/EC (Framework Directive);"
Overall it is, perhaps, a surprisingly positive commitment in principle by the EU Council to an open and neutral internet. Whether it will have any real meaning in practice remains to be seen.