Summary:

Europe is a step closer to finally passing its controversial telecoms package after the European Parliament on Tuesday agreed a draft deal…

Europe is a step closer to finally passing its controversial telecoms package after the European Parliament on Tuesday agreed a draft deal to resolve MEPs’ differences on how to tackle copyright infringement. Reuters.com reports that a meeting of MEPs on Tuesday led by the current Czech presidency hammered out a draft agreement on the wording of the final text of the controversial telecoms package — EU member states’ ambassadors are meeting today (Wednesday) to give their approval.

Consensus hope: British Conservative MEP Malcom Harbour was optimistic enough to declare that “subject to final agreement by all member states tomorrow I do think we have a package which will advance the European telecoms sector… It has been deeply frustrating to feel this one issue which was not in any way at the center of what we were doing could derail two years of work.”

The bill had included a clause to give member states powers to force ISPs to disconnect repeat piracy offenders — but an amendment, first submitted by Guy Bono, was passed last week recognising citizens’ rights to an “impartial and independent tribunal” before disconnection. More after the jump….

French opposition: That seems to have cleared the way for the bill to at last get passed at a vote on May 5 — but France doesn’t quite see it that way. The governing UMP party is today re-introducing the three-strikes, graduated response legislation into the National Assembly after the bill was embarrassingly defeated before Easter. The law to create a “Hadopi” copyright agency remains a key plank of Nicolas Sarkozy’s digital strategy and his ambassador will be under pressure from European neighbours today to agree to the draft telecoms package deal.

Hadopi under threat: There is even the risk that MEPs could seek stronger wording of the telco package just to ensure that the French “Hadopi” law isn’t passed. French UMP member and National Assembly president Bernard Accoyer said yesterday it was “too early to say if there were any ‘interference’ between the European law on copyright and (France’s) draft internet law”, but Guy Bono writes in a typically angered press release that France’s attitude of going against MEPs is “contrary to the European spirit”.

As for the UK…: Intellectual property minister David Lammy has hinted that the UK wouldn’t follow the French down the road of introducing a three strikes law, favouring the Digital Britain review’s recommendation of a rights agency and warning system to pirates. He told The ObserverIt is for the French to determine what is right for them, but for us here we do not believe that would be the right road to go down.

MGMT deal: Meanwhile, Sarkozy has his own copyright problems: UMP has had to pay US indie band MGMT

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