EU surveillance of telecommunications
The vote in the European Parliament to accept data retention and surveillance by the law enforcement agencies: an analysis


To Europeans, and people outside the EU, it is important to explain the vote on data retention in the European Parliament - and the make-up of the European Parliament.

The political make-up of the European Parliament and national governments in the EU

The largest party in the European Parliament is the PPE ("European Peoples' Party/Christian Democrat", 233 MEPs, conservative, right wing) backed by 7 right to extreme right wing governments (Italy, Austria, Portugal, France, Denmark, Netherlands and Spain). The second largest party is the PSE (179 MEPs), officially called the "Socialist group", in practice centre to centre-right, with 6 governments of the same complexion (UK, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Greece). This group will probably rename itself  "Social democrat" in the near future. Ireland and Luxembourg do not officially fit into either category but their governments are effectively on the right.

There are a total of 626 MEPs. The other political groups are: ELDR (53 MEPs, Liberal), Green/EFA (45 MEPs), GUE (44 MEPs, United Left), UEN (22 MEPs, "Europe of Nations"), EDD (18 MEPs, "Europe of democracies and diversities"), TDI (18 MEPs "Technical" group including Le Pen) and NI (14 MEPs, non-attached).

At the last European Parliament elections in 1999 the PSE were replaced by the PPE as the largest party. When the PPE and the PSE vote together they command 412 MEPs out of 626.

The vote on data retention on 30 May 2002

In November 2001 the plenary session of the European Parliament adopted a 1st reading report strongly opposing data retention and surveillance. When the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights re-considered its 2nd reading position - in the face of the continued demands from the Council for data retention - the PPE group, led by Ana Palacio Spain), the chair of the Committee, broke ranks and voted against the previously agreed position (the vote was: 25 to 19, with the PSE still backing the 1st reading position). Ana Palacio then entered informal talks with the current Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union to agree a position that accepted the Council's demands.

Two relevant votes took place on the issue of data retention and surveillance on 30 May. In the first the PPE/PSE alliance voted to reject the principled stand taken by the parliament on the 1st reading in November 2001 and as recently as the vote in the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights on 18 April this year - 340 votes to 150.

This meant that the PPE/PSE majority in the parliament voted against the maintenance of the provision under the existing 1997 EU Directive on privacy in telecommunications which says that data can only be retained for billing purposes and must then be erased - it also allows for the interception of telecommunications but on a limited, specific, authorised and controlled basis (ie: a warrant or judicial order has to be obtained).

The PPE/PSE majority then voted in favour of an amendment - already agreed with the Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) - allowing national governments to introduce legislation requiring telecommunications network and service providers to retain data (traffic and location) and for law enforcement agencies to have access to this data. The effect is to end "privacy in telecommunications". The vote on this amendment was 351 for and 133 against (ELDR, Green/EFA, GUE and others) with 13 abstentions (see below for how each MEP voted by group.

Only two PSE (Socialist group) MEPs voted against: Anne Van Lancker (Belgium) and Jose Maria Mendiluce Pereiro (Spain).

Five other PSE MEPs abstained: Dehousse (Belgium), McCarthy (UK/Northern Ireland), Mann Erika (Germany), Napolitano (Italy), Pittella (Italy).

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The unholy alliance of the PPE and the PSE groups in the European Parliament have demonstrated that they back the demands of the governments (and law enforcement agencies) in the EU rather than the rights of citizens to privacy and civil liberties. The people of Europe have had a fundamental right taken away from them, a right that will never be re-established.

The retention of data and the potential surveillance of the telecommunications (phone-calls, e-mails, faxes and internet usage) of the whole population of Europe is yet another casualty of the "war against terrorism" and it is unlikely to be the last"

The vote, by party, for, against and abstentions


Recommendation Cappato A5-0130/2002 - am. 46,2ème partie 30/05/2002 11:27:19

349 FOR [revised vote: for data retention and the surveillance of all communications]

EDD: Belder, Bernié, Blokland, Butel, van Dam, Esclopé, Mathieu, Raymond

ELDR: Di Pietro, Dybkjær, Formentini, Sbarbati

NI: Ilgenfritz, Kronberger, Raschhofer

PPE-DE: Andria, Arvidsson, Atkins, Averoff, Avilés Perea, Ayuso González, Balfe, Bartolozzi, Bastos, Bayona de Perogordo, Bayrou, Beazley, Bodrato, Böge, von Boetticher, Bourlanges, Bowis, Bradbourn, Brok, Bushill-Matthews, Callanan, Camisón Asensio, Cederschiöld, Chichester, Cocilovo, Coelho, Corrie, Cunha, Cushnahan, Daul, Decourrière, Deprez, De Sarnez, Deva, De Veyrac, Dimitrakopoulos, Doorn, Dover, Doyle, Ebner, Elles, Evans Jonathan, Ferber, Ferrer, Ferri, Fiori, Flemming, Folias, Fontaine, Foster, Fourtou, Friedrich, Gahler, Galeote Quecedo, García-Margallo y Marfil, García-Orcoyen Tormo, Gargani, Garriga Polledo, Gemelli, Gil-Robles Gil-Delgado, Glase, Goepel, Gomolka, Goodwill, Grossetête, Hannan, Hansenne, Harbour, Hatzidakis, Heaton-Harris, Helmer, Hernández Mollar, Herranz García, Hieronymi, Hortefeux, Jackson, Jean-Pierre, Jeggle, Karas, Keppelhoff-Wiechert, Khanbhai, Kirkhope, Klamt, Klaß, Knolle, Koch, Konrad, Korhola, Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Lamassoure, Langen, Langenhagen, Laschet, Lechner, Lehne, Lisi, Lulling, Maat, McCartin, McMillan-Scott, Maij-Weggen, Mantovani, Marinos, Marques, Martens, Matikainen-Kallström, Mauro, Mayer Hans-Peter, Mayer Xaver, Méndez de Vigo, Mennea, Mennitti, Menrad, Mombaur, Moreira Da Silva, Müller Emilia Franziska, Musotto, Naranjo Escobar, Nicholson, Niebler, Ojeda Sanz, Oostlander, Pack, Parish, Peijs, Pérez Álvarez, Perry, Pirker, Piscarreta, Podestà, Poettering, Pomés Ruiz, Provan, Purvis, Rack, Radwan, Redondo Jiménez, Rovsing, Rübig, Sacrédeus, Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Santer, Sartori, Scallon, Schierhuber, Schmitt, Schnellhardt, Schröder Jürgen, Schwaiger, Smet, Sommer, Stauner, Stenmarck, Stenzel, Stevenson, Sturdy, Sudre, Sumberg, Tajani, Tannock, Theato, Thyssen, Trakatellis, Van Hecke, Van Orden, Varela Suanzes-Carpegna, Vidal-Quadras Roca, Villiers, Vlasto, Wenzel-Perillo, Wieland, von Wogau, Xarchakos, Zacharakis, Zappalà, Zimmerling, Zissener

PSE: Adam, Andersson, Aparicio Sánchez, Baltas, Barón Crespo, Berenguer Fuster, Berès, van den Berg, Berger, Bösch, Bowe, Bullmann, van den Burg, Carnero González, Carraro, Carrilho, Cashman, Caudron, Cercas, Cerdeira Morterero, Ceyhun, Colom i Naval, Corbett, Corbey, De Keyser, Désir, Dührkop Dührkop, Duhamel, Duin, Ettl, Evans Robert J.E., Färm, Fava, Ferreira, Ford, Fruteau, Garot, Gebhardt, Ghilardotti, Gillig, Glante, Görlach, Guy-Quint, Hänsch, Haug, Hedkvist Petersen, Honeyball, Howitt, Hughes, van Hulten, Iivari, Imbeni, Izquierdo Collado, Jöns, Karamanou, Karlsson, Katiforis, Keßler, Kindermann, Kinnock, Koukiadis, Krehl, Kreissl-Dörfler, Kuckelkorn, Lage, Lalumière, Lange, Lavarra, Leinen, Linkohr, Lund, McAvan, McNally, Malliori, Marinho, Martin David W., Martin Hans-Peter, Martínez Martínez, Mastorakis, Medina Ortega, Menéndez del Valle, Miguélez Ramos, Miller, Moraes, Morgan, Müller Rosemarie, Murphy, Myller, Naïr, Obiols i Germà, O'Toole, Paciotti, Patrie, Pérez Royo, Piecyk, Poignant, Poos, Prets, Randzio-Plath, Rapkay, Read, Rocard, Rodríguez Ramos, Roth-Behrendt, Rothe, Rothley, Roure, Ruffolo, Sacconi, Sakellariou, dos Santos, Sauquillo Pérez del Arco, Savary, Scarbonchi, Scheele, Schmid Gerhard, Schulz, Simpson, Skinner, Soares, Sornosa Martínez, Souladakis, Stihler, Stockmann, Swiebel, Swoboda, Terrón i Cusí, Thorning-Schmidt, Titley, Torres Marques, Trentin, Vairinhos, Valenciano Martínez-Orozco, Van Brempt, Vattimo, Veltroni, Volcic, Walter, Watts, Weiler, Westendorp y Cabeza, Whitehead, Wiersma, Wynn, Zorba, Zrihen

UEN: Angelilli, Berlato, Caullery, Muscardini, Musumeci, Nobilia, Pasqua, Poli Bortone, Ribeiro e Castro, Turchi

Verts/ALE: Celli

135 AGAINST [data retention and the surveillance of all communications]

EDD: Abitbol, Bonde, Coûteaux, Farage, Krarup, Kuntz, Titford

ELDR: Attwooll, Beysen, Caveri, Clegg, Costa Paolo, Davies, De Clercq, Ducarme, Duff, Flesch, Gasòliba i Böhm, Huhne, Jensen, van der Laan, Ludford, Lynne, Maaten, Malmström, Manders, Mulder, Newton Dunn, Nicholson of Winterbourne, Olsson, Paulsen, Pesälä, Plooij-van Gorsel, Pohjamo, Ries, Riis-Jørgensen, Rutelli, Sánchez García, Sanders-ten Holte, Schmidt, Sterckx, Sørensen, Thors, Väyrynen, Vermeer, Virrankoski, Wallis, Watson

GUE/NGL: Ainardi, Alavanos, Alyssandrakis, Bakopoulos, Bertinotti, Blak, Brie, Fiebiger, Figueiredo, Frahm, Fraisse, González Álvarez, Herzog, Jové Peres, Kaufmann, Korakas, Koulourianos, Manisco, Markov, Marset Campos, Meijer, Miranda, Modrow, Papayannakis, Puerta, Schmid Herman, Schröder Ilka, Seppänen, Sjöstedt, Vinci, Wurtz

NI: Berthu, Borghezio, Cappato, Dell'Alba, Della Vedova, Dillen, Dupuis, de Gaulle, Gollnisch, Gorostiaga Atxalandabaso, Lang, Le Pen, Souchet, Turco, Vanhecke

PPE-DE: Cesaro, De Mita, Fatuzzo, Marini, Pastorelli, Stockton

PSE: Mendiluce Pereiro, Van Lancker

UEN: Queiró

Verts/ALE: Ahern, Bautista Ojeda, Boumediene-Thiery, Buitenweg, Cohn-Bendit, Evans Jillian, Frassoni, Hautala, Hudghton, Isler Béguin, Jonckheer, Lagendijk, Lambert, Lannoye, Lucas, MacCormick, Maes, Mayol i Raynal, Nogueira Román, Onesta, Piétrasanta, Rod, de Roo, Rühle, Schörling, Schroedter, Sörensen, Staes, Turmes, Vander Taelen, Voggenhuber, Wuori

13 ABSTENTION

NI: Garaud, Holmes

PPE-DE: Costa Raffaele, Pisicchio, Santini, Schleicher, Wijkman

PSE: Dehousse, McCarthy, Mann Erika, Napolitano, Pittella

UEN: Camre

NB: Jens-Peter Bonde and Ole Krarup were initally recorded as voting in favour of data retention, this was not their intention and their votes have now been officially recorded as being against.



Background - Statewatch News online

1. European Parliament caves in on data retention:
Report
2. Responses by civil society groups to Ms. Paciotti (PSE MEP, socialist group) letter of 28 May 2002 and to the vote: Responses by civil society groups (updated 31.5.02)
3. European Parliament committee chair tries to reach a "deal" with the Council on the surveillance of communications:
Report
4. EU governments are secretly drafting a binding Framework Decision to introduce the universal surveillance of telecommunications (updated 9.5.02): Report
5. Vote in Committee:
Narrow vote in European Parliament on data retention
6. Statewatch summary:
European Commission sells out
7. Statewatch bulletin, January-February 2002:
Final decision on surveillance of telecommunications
8. Statewatch report, up to 11 September:
Data protection or data retention in the EU? (pdf)

Background - Statewatch Observatories on surveillance 

9. EU-FBI telecommunications surveillance system: EU-FBI
10. Statewatch Observatory on Surveillance in Europe:
S.O.S.Europe
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