Skip to main content

Potential blocks to Council vote on Directive: German and Swedish positions

5 April 2019

Ahead of the vote by heads of state in the EU Council (scheduled for 15 April), two potential blocking countries, Germany and Sweden, have discussed their respective positions.

Germany was identified as a potential blocking country due to widespread street protests, incompatibility with the German government coalition agreement, and the previous withdrawal of support from Justice Minister, Katarina Barley (also the recipient of the largest EU petition in history protesting against the implementation of the Directive). However, Barley has since revised her position, calling instead for the addition of a supplementary statement to the Directive which would ensure that Article 13/17 only applies to large, powerful market platforms (such as Facebook); this is apparently an “indispensable prerequisite for approval” at the EU Council meeting. This requirement falls on the back of an admission from EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger (initial proposer of the Directive) that “upload filters cannot be completely avoided” (and similar conclusions on content recognition technologies from the French Culture Ministry).

In Sweden, two leading MPs have reportedly called upon the Swedish government to reject the Directive at a committee meeting today. The government was previously criticised by the Committee on Enterprise and Innovation for not garnering sufficient support from the Riksdag (decision making body), and indeed Sweden has previously dissented against the Directive at a JURI vote (reportedly all Swedish MEPs barring the Social Democrats being in opposition). However, Sweden’s dissent alone is not sufficient to block the Directive, and would require similar positions from Germany and the UK (the former potentially, and the latter unlikely).