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Thank God we've left! EU throws paddy and drags 23 nations to court for not imposing rules

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The member states, including France, Italy, Spain and Poland, have been set an ultimatum to explain their tardiness or face further consequences. The EU copyright rules were adopted two years ago to ensure a level playing field between the bloc’s creative industries and online giants such as Google and Facebook.The European Commission confirmed that it had sent letters of formal notice to the countries asking explanations.

This is the first step in the EU’s infringement proceedings, which could eventually end with the offending governments being slapped with huge fines until they fall into line with the rules.

The deadline for implementing the copyright measures was June 7.

The other countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

They have just two months to respond to the Commission’s letter, if not they will be issued with a formal warning.

EU news Ursula von der Leyen Emmanuel Macron

France among group of 23 EU nations being slapped with legal action (Image: GETTY)

Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron (Image: GETTY)

After receiving a reasoned opinion, the next step for eurocrats is to drag nations in from of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The Commission has also demanded France, Spain and 19 other EU nations to explain why they missed a June 7 deadline to impose separate copyright rules for online transmission of radio and TV programmes.

The other countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

The EU’s copyright rules have been hugely controversial in some member states.

Ursula von der Leyen

european Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Image: GETTY)

ECJ judges have already ruled that a key clause complies with the bloc’s regulations.

The so-called Article 17 forces sharing platforms such as YouTube and Instagram to filter copyrighted content.

It is backed by the creative industry, and has pitted artists and news publishers against tech firms, internet activists and consumer groups.

Poland had said the filter could pave the way for censorship and asked the ECJ to annul it.

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EU Commission

The EU Commission's copyright laws have been hugely controversial (Image: GETTY)

CJEU Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe rejected Poland's arguments and said the Article is compatible with the freedom of expression and information guaranteed in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

"While Article 17 entails an interference with freedom of expression, that interference satisfies the conditions laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights," he said.

The official said regulators had provided safeguards to minimise the risk that online platforms may over-block lawful information with their filters.

The EU Commission has already been forced to convince broadcasters and internet activists that there isn’t a danger of censorship.

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Diego Naranjo, campaign group European Digital Rights, said: "This sets a dangerous precedent for future European legislation and for other governments around the world that would get inspired by legalised copyright censorship in Europe.”

And the Association of Commercial Television also lashed out at the Article 17 provisions.

"This very last minute non-binding guidance is manifestly contentious and very likely to be challenged," ACT Director-General Gregoire Polad said.

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