from the horse-trading:-the-public-internet-for-russian-gas dept
In the hours leading up to the vote in the EU Parliament on the EU Copyright Directive, the German publication FAZ (which has been generally supportive of the Directive) has released quite a bombshell (in German), suggesting that the reason Germany caved to France on its terrible demands concerning copyright was in order to get France’s approval of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
If you don’t recall, the German delegation had actually pushed back on the more extreme versions of Article 13 — and, in particular, had demanded that a final version have a clear carve-out for smaller companies, so as not to have them forced out of business by the onerous demands of the law. However, after some back and forth, Germany caved in to France’s demands, with many left scratching their heads as to why. However, some noted the “coincidence” in timing, that right after this, France also withdrew its objections to the pipeline which is very controversial in the EU (and the US, which is threatening sanctions).
FAZ notes that there were whispered rumors about Germany and France basically trading these two proposals, with Germany effectively selling out the open public internet in exchange for easier access to Russian gas. However, it has now seen documents that support this claim. Germany’s economic minister, Peter Altmaier apparently promised startups that Germany would not cave on its promise to create a carve-out for all companies with less than 20 million euros in revenue per year — only to drop that demand the very next day.
According to FAZ, the French delegation directly suggested the idea of France backing away from its opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Germany backed away from its concerns about Article 13. And, voila, within days, Germany gave up on its demands regarding Article 13 and, a few days later, France switched sides and agreed to support the pipeline. So, as the German MEPs go to the polls tomorrow, we’ll see if they think it was a fair deal to sell out the public internet in exchange for some Russian gas.