The latest meeting of the Swedish Parliament EU Committee is over. Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson was called to the meeting, where he was instructed by Parliament to vote against the EU Copyright Directive during the upcoming decisive meeting of the Council of Ministers on Monday.
Among Swedish MPs on the Committee voting for the decision was the Green Party, junior coalition partners to the Social Democratic Party in government. This is the first time the Greens have voted against the Social Democrats*.
According to Swedish Moderate Party MP Jan Ericson, the committee began with a presentation by the Minister of Justice, after which all parties indicated that they wanted the government to vote no.
“Today’s EU Committee started with a presentation from the Minister of Justice.
Tomas Tobé (Moderate Party) then moved an opposing motion. We want the government to vote against the copyright directive in the Council of Ministers. All parties except the Social Democrats then made the same demands. The Centre Party, the Left Party , Sweden Democrats, the Green Party, the Liberals, the Christian Democrats …”
He continued to tweet his observations from within the meeting:
“Green Party MP Lorentz Tovatt opposes that which he calls ‘the Social Democrat proposal’ to support the Copyright Directive. The Minister for Justice responded sharply that it was ‘the Government’s proposal’. Are the Greens part of the Government or not?”
Moments later, the decision was made: the Swedish government now has to change its vote at the Council of Ministers.
According to Moderate Party MP and EU Committee Vice Chair Tomas Tobé, this kind of action is not at all common, “…extremely unusual. I can’t remember a single occasion during my 13 years in Parliament, but maybe I’ve missed sometime”.
Centre Party MP Annika Qarlsson is pleased with the decision, and sends a message to other member states:
“We now hope that the proposal will be sent back to the EU’s negotiating table so that these two articles can be changed before we decide on whether or not to adopt the Directive. We also hope that more member states will use their common sense and also vote against the Copyright Directive, so that the proposal as it is now being drafted is stopped”.
The Government also believes that they’ve already sought support for their position in Parliament, and had secured broad agreement. Justice Minister Morgan Johansson was surprised, more than anything, by how the Green Party voted, which he says is “unique”. “I haven’t experienced it before”, said Johansson to Swedish news agency TT.
On Monday, European agriculture ministers will meet to vote on a number of ‘A’ items on the agenda; items expected to be voted through without debate. At this stage, Sweden will have to change its vote.
However, the Government isn’t legally bound to conform to the wishes of Parliament in such instances. There’s no law that forces ministers to vote according to Parliament’s demands, but the Constitutional Committee would be keen to discuss it with them if they didn’t.
So what might happen on Monday is still not settled.
Questions remain as to whether the Copyright Directive is completely settled. Not only Sweden, but even Germany needs to change its approach as well, but that’s complicated and not especially likely. Germany’s Justice Minister has said that the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers has demanded that member states have a clear stance by Friday at 12 noon. Nothing has yet been communicated that indicates Germany changing its position on the issue.
In practice, however, each country can change its vote at the last minute, ahead of voting in the Council of Ministers on Monday.
Update: On Friday a new document from the Council surfaced, where Estonia claims to change their vote in the Council:
You can read more about it in Swedish here.
This article is free of charge, and is made available thanks to monthly financial contributions from people who believe in open journalism.
You can contribute too, using Patreon.
The article is published under the CC-BY license, and is free to share, republish and remix, as long as you link back here.
Links in Swedish where indicated with *
Read the original post in Swedish.