EU law-making process cracking under pressure

Brussels, 7 December 2005. The EU “fast-food factory” is producing hasty and unsafe laws like the Big Brother anti-privacy law, warns the FFII, an international information rights group based in Munich.

“The EU legislative process is turning into a fast-food factory fed by special interests”, says Pieter Hintjens, president of the FFII. He points out: “Instead of the careful, balanced, and impartial process we expect to see, law-making is becoming hasty, heavily lobbied, and driven by autocratic commercial and political agendas. The Big Brother anti-privacy law (aka ‘data retention directive’) is symptomatic of wider problems.”

He continues: “Europe’s citizens are being caught in a ‘triple trap’. First, we have lost control over the process, and our elected bodies are being bullied into accepting bad laws. Second, laws are being passed to make ordinary citizens into criminals on a massive scale. Third, the EU is gaining the power to enforce its criminal sanctions in member nations.”

Jonas Maebe of the FFII says: “The Council and Commission have not given up on their strategy on trying to push through Parliament whatever they like. They misrepresent independent studies. They encourage Parliament to disregard due diligence in the interest of some vague higher goal: the Lisbon agenda in the software patents case, fighting terrorism in case of data retention. Stakeholders don’t get a proper chance to be heard, or are plainly ignored.”

The only directly-elected body in the EU decision-making process is the European Parliament. The fast-food factory of the Council and Commission throws directives at the elected Parliament under such pressure that the Parliament does not have time to analyse them.

Jonas Maebe continues: “We need a Parliament which can say a clear ‘NO’ to indiscriminate legislative spamming and pressure by the Commission and Council. We need good directives, and a good directive means a proper overview of the big picture, proper impact assessment, time to consider concerns of civil society and industry, and especially time for Parliament to form its own opinion.”

For an analysis of how the data retention directive is being pushed through the EP, follow this link.

Background Information

Contact information

Erik Josefsson
FFII Brussels Representative
ehj @

About the FFII

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a non-profit association registered in several European countries, which is dedicated to the spread of data processing literacy. FFII supports the development of public information goods based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850 members, 3,000 companies and 90,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

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