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The 1998 and 2006 Protection of Minors
and Human Dignity
Where it comes from:
1996 - The Green Paper
The development of the audiovisual and information services industry in the European Union requires not only the right economic and political conditions but also a certain level of protection for the general interests of the European citizens. It was in this connection that The Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity (summary ) (COM (96) 483 final) opened a wide-ranging debate on the problems associated with the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services, whatever their means of conveyance (television, proprietary on-line services, services on the Internet).
This Green Paper on the protection of minors and of human dignity in audio-visual services is the first stage of reflection at European level on the ethical dimension of the Information Society and the way in which the general interest can be protected in the new services. Consultations took place with European institutions, Member States and all parties concerned (industry, users, consumers). The extensive consultation process produced a first set of conclusions which were submitted to the Council on 30 June 1997 as a Commission working document . The Council welcomed these conclusions and encouraged the Commission to continue its work along the lines sketched out.
1998 - The Council Recommendation
The Commission continued its works thus facilitating the task of reaching a consensus, which led to a Proposal for a Council Recommendation, presented in a Communication (COM (97) 570 final).
The European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions all gave their opinion. The Recommendation on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services has been adopted by the Council on May 28th, 1998 (formal adoption on September 24th, 1998). It is the first legal instrument concerning the content of on-line audiovisual and information services made available on the Internet.
The 1998 Recommendation, which is a legal act under Article 249 (ex-article 189) of the Treaty, aims to provide guidelines for national legislation. It covers all electronic media:
television broadcasters are asked to try out new digital methods of parental control (such as personal codes, filtering software or control chips);
on-line Internet service providers are asked to develop codes of good conduct so as to better apply and clarify current legislation. The Recommendation fits in with current national and European regulations.
The 1998 Recommendation offers guidelines for the development of national self-regulation regarding the protection of minors and human dignity.
2006 - The European Parliament and Council Recommendation
On 30 April 2004 the Commission followed up on the Second evaluation report on the 1998 Council Recommendation (see below) by proposing an additional Recommendation: proposal for a recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of minors and human dignity and the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry (press release 04/598). This additional Recommendation was proposed in order to be able to keep up with the challenges which technological developments bring.
On 16 November 2004, concerning the Commission proposal for a recommendation on protection of minors and the right of reply, the Council took note of the general approach which was adopted as a result of prior discussions in the Council’s Audiovisual Working Party under the Dutch Presidency. The Presidency concluded by noting that the Council unanimously reached a general approach on this proposal.
On 7 September 2005, the European Parliament’s report on the Recommendation, which consisted of 37 amendments, was adopted by a large majority. This vote closed the 1st reading in the European Parliament.
In response to the Parliament’s report, the Commission adopted an Amended proposal for a Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity and the Right of Reply in relation to the Competitiveness of the European Audiovisual and Information Services Industry on 20 January 2006, COM(2006)31final.
On 18 September 2006 the Council adopted by qualified majority a common position on the adoption of a Recommendation on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply.
On 21 September 2006 the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament concerning the common position of the Council on the adoption of a Recommendation on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply (COM/2006/0546 final) was adopted. The Commission considers that the common position, adopted on 18 September 2006 by a qualified majority, respects to a large extent the objectives, and the approach of its own proposal, and that the Council has taken due account of the European Parliament's concerns and priorities and was able to accept most of Parliament's amendments. The Commission therefore granted its support.
On 13 December 2006 the European Parliament approved without amendment the Council's common position on the proposed Recommendation on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity and on the Right of Reply.
In preparing the 2003 evaluation report, a questionnaire was addressed to the Member States and the accession countries. A copy of the questionnaire was also sent to the members of the Contact Committee established under the "Television Without Frontiers" Directive. 26 replies were received covering all Member States, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Turkey, Iceland and Norway.
The Commission organised, in September 2003, a meeting of scientific experts in Brussels to provide input to its debate on protecting young people against television, Internet and video game violence.