There’s time to save Article 13, the section of the proposed Copyright Directive that stands up for artists, musicians, filmmakers and other creators, helping them to thrive and rebalancing their relations with big platforms.
Over the weekend we reported that the Trialogue talks aimed at producing a unified version of the Copyright Directive had been postponed sine die after representatives of the 28 EU member countries failed to agree on certain aspects of the copyright proposal.
So what’s next? Is it all over for Article 13? No. It’s not all over -- there’s still time to preserve it.
Here’s what has to happen:
The heads of the EU countries’ delegations (a group known as COREPER) need to hammer out a common Trialogue negotiating position for the Council of the European Union. Then the Trialogue has to be convened and meet by Feb. 14 -- a Valentine's day deadline.
Remember, the Trialogue is a key phase during which one final version of the European Copyright Directive should emerge from the three versions of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU. Only when that version is produced can Parliament hold a vote for final approval.
Why Feb. 14?
EU elections are in May, and with the last plenary session of the current Parliament scheduled for April 15-18, EU officials say Feb. 14 is the deadline for the Trialogue.
Here’s how COREPER works: For the Council to have a mandate for the Trialogue talks, COREPER needs a qualified majority to agree on a negotiating position. That means 55% of member states, representing at least 65% of the EU population, need to vote in favor.
The 11 countries that opposed the Romanian compromise
Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden were not ready to approve the mandate proposed by the Romanian presidency. Larger countries, like Germany, have more sway. Here’s a handy vote calculator for you procedural geeks.
Germany holds the key to a way forward
Italy had been behind Article 13 and the Copyright Directive until its new government came to power. Since then it has tended to oppose new EU measures of all kinds.
Germany, on the other hand, has not supported the Copyright Directive in the past, and remained opposed the compromise text put forward last week. Germany is a swing state that needs to be on board for the Copyright Directive, and Article 13, to come to a final vote.
According to a video statement by Axel Voss, the Parliament rapporteur for the Copyright Directive, Germany was pushing for an Article 13 exemption for small businesses, while France thought such an exemption would be damaging. With some creativity and good will as Mr. Voss said, reaching an agreement is still possible and the opportunity still there.
The COREPER will very likely not address the Copyright Directive this week but will probably do so next week. So the inter-institutional talks should resume sometime during the week of Jan. 28.