Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2012-05-09-Speech-3-148-000"

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"Mr President, I would like to start by thanking my former colleague, Diana Wallis, who worked on this issue right up until she left Parliament and I took over. It has been a very interesting and informative process to familiarise myself with this matter, and I would like to begin by thanking all of the shadow rapporteurs for their constructive cooperation and willingness to genuinely solve this problem, and for all of their contributions, comments and amendments. We have now achieved our objective, we have a solution that we are all able to support, and we voted unanimously on this in committee. Why is this so important? It is because international libel cases are a reality throughout our Member States. Today, we are celebrating Europe Day, and we are pleased to see a Europe that is growing ever closer together. Our citizens move between countries and they have friends, acquaintances and family members from other Member States. Integration in Europe is something that we all very much welcome. However, in keeping with the spirit of the times in which we find ourselves, there are more and more sections of the media wanting to report on people and events in other countries. The media are also consumed by people who live somewhere other than the country in which they were born and live and the country whose language they speak. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that the number of legal proceedings relating to libel cases involving parties from different Member States could increase, and it might even increase to a considerable extent. When this happens, there will be a dispute as to which country’s legislation should apply. In order to ensure that these international legal proceedings are handled in the best way possible, an addition to the current Rome II Regulation is needed, and that is why we are discussing and debating this today. In addition to this, there is also the opportunity for so-called forum shopping, where the parties attempt to direct their applications for proceedings to a particular country which, from their perspective, has particularly favourable legislation, and this is clearly not a good thing. We are trying to limit this forum shopping in every legal area. In the most recent negotiations concerning the Rome II Regulation in 2005, there was broad agreement in Parliament on how these issues should be dealt with. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in getting all the way to a solution with the Council at that time. Instead, the issue has remained up in the air and unresolved since then. We now believe it is high time that we established clarity in this area, so that everyone concerned knows what rules apply. During the course of this work, predictability was an essential requirement for me, as this is a vital foundation for a modern legal system and a society based on the rule of law. People have to know what rules apply. In the Committee on Legal Affairs, we therefore took Parliament’s position from 2005 as our starting point and made a number of necessary changes. We are now establishing a clear fundamental rule that the country in which the claimant is resident and to which a newspaper, television channel, radio station or similar form of media directs its message on the basis of the language it uses is to be the one whose laws are to be applied. If this is difficult to determine, then it must be the country in which the newsroom is based that applies. It is unreasonable to expect our journalists and responsible publishers to be familiar with the defamation legislation in all countries before they decide whether or not to publish – this assumption could lead to self-censorship. Everyone ought to know which ground rules and laws apply, and it is important that this principle is maintained. Within the framework established by our common rules on fundamental rights and freedoms, it is then up to each Member State to find the right balance between these rights. I hope the Commission is now prepared to take note of the legislative proposals that we have presented and that it will come back to us on these before long. I look forward to possibly even receiving an answer during our discussion here this evening, which would be very pleasing. Thank you very much for this, Mr President."@en1

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