In June 2009 the Swedish Pirate Party gained an impressive victory in the European Parliament elections. With 7% of the vote, the party earned a seat in the European Parliament, with the possibility for a second if the Lisbon Treaty passed.
The treaty eventually passed a few months later, but due to the slow bureaucratic process it would take another two years before this seat could be filled. All this time Amelia Andersdotter had to wait patiently to enter parliament and represent the people who voted her in.
However, now that all member states have signed off on it, Andersdotter and 17 other new members are expected to take their seats next month.
Representing one of the youngest parties in Europe, the second Pirate MEP is about to set a fitting record. When elected Andersdotter was only 21, but the now 24-year-old will still be the youngest member to hold a seat in the current parliament.
“Not having to answer more questions about when I will finally get to fill my seat is what I’m looking forward to most,” Andersdotter tells TorrentFreak. “It feels really good that the when-question is over.”
Andersdotter is a supporter of a united Europe, and hopes that the Pirate Party can help to shape policy in which culture, creativity and innovation will flourish.
“I kind of buy into this idea that the European Union is a good thing, and that closer connections between European nations both political and social are advantageous not only on the level of the prices of groceries, but perhaps even more, culturally.”
“It’s nice to be able to say democratisation of EU governance is moving forward, that individual member states aren’t stalling that democratisation for their own nationalist purposes any more,” Andersdotter tells us.
The unitedness is also one of the downsides. As her delayed appointment illustrates, it can be very hard sometimes to actually get things done in Europe.
“What I’m not looking forward to as much is perhaps the fear that I will realise most of EU governance is actually a battle between various national interests, rather than one interest in having a good, strong European Union. But it’s difficult of course. ”
“The EU is a big place, and one reason people feel closest to ‘their’ member state is because they know most things about it. I remember the first time I was in Belgium a few years ago and the prime minister resigned and I thought ‘oh no!’ but another Belgian just said to me ‘again?’ with a deep sigh.”
For the remainder of her term as MEP, which end in 2014, Andersdotter will focus on issues like competition in the telecommunication area.
“European approaches to competition law need to be changed, at least a bit. Better sector adaptation, for instance. The lack of real control over vertical integration creates the situation where telcos (or media enterprises) own everything from the backbone cables to the music streaming service – that’s not good. One would at least expect some obligation to keep the different tiers apart,” Andersdotter says.
“Currently this type of bundling is, more worryingly, encouraged rather than regulated and it creates a very unfair balance between the infrastructure owners (in this case) and users. Competition law just now deals mostly with horizontal integration, which would be say, if one company owns all of the cable in northern Belgium (Telenet).”
Andersdotter points out that the telecommunications sector has some good sector specific laws already, the net neutrality law in the Netherlands being a prime example. The problem is, however, to get all member stats to adopt these regulations.
“Maybe European Parliament or the European institutions need better tools to make sure member states follow their community obligations,” Andersdotter notes.
Aside from defending the public from unfair competition, the future Member of Parliament will also tackle the various rights issues that are so dear to the Pirate Party.
“I’m also very interested in industrial rights, like, patent rights or design rights, trademarks. There’s an abundance of kind of side-initiatives, data exclusivity in the pharmaceutical industry being a good example, that also reinforce the ‘non-material’ economic position of companies in a way that is not always good for society,” she says.
“One issue that I know the EU deals with a lot in all areas, and that we don’t really think much about at all in terms of industrial property, is certification – what is a certification worth, how are they generated (produced) and traded, by whom? Between whom?”
Andersdotter further hopes that the Pirate Party presence in the European Parliament will be followed by strong representation in national parliaments.
“It’s important for the PP to be represented everywhere, I guess. One of my hopes for the future is that the PP will be represented in all the national parliaments of member states so that we can hold member states kind of accountable more for what happens in the EU.”
“I find it antagonizing that member states and their politicians try to avoid responsibility for their own failures by blaming the EU, but mostly how successful they are in doing so,” Andersdotter tells us.
“When national parliaments have been saying that they can’t do anything about ACTA, activists and media just kind of happily accept. What national parliaments could do, and should do, is obviously tell their national governments not to sign the agreements. That is and would be within their power,” she adds.
Thus far none of the Pirate parties has managed to score a seat in the national parliament through elections, but the recent outcome of the German State elections shows that the possibilities are there. Political change is slow, but things are moving in the right direction for the Pirate Party.
In the European Parliament the seat of Amelia Andersdotter will double the representation of the Pirate Party in Europe’s highest political arena, something the 5-years-young party can be proud of.