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Pirates prepare to enter Europe

"We stand for more democracy," says Gregory Engels, international coordinator of the German Pirate Party. He tells DW how his party intends to achieve this on the European level.

DW: Last weekend, Pirate Parties from several countries in Europe met in Prague to debate their plans for Europe. Do you expect that the Pirates will be able to found a European party in time for the next European parliamentary elections in 2014?

Engels: Yes, we agreed in Prague last weekend that we would like to establish a European Pirate Party. The statutes must now be worked out and details discussed and agreed at party conferences. I am sure that this will now happen and the party will be established within a year.

What do the Pirates want to achieve in Europe?

The specifics have yet to be decided. The voices of the different countries must also be taken into account.

What are the political issues?

We from Germany have said that we have a concept of ​​Europe that strengthens the European Parliament and democracy in Europe. We want a Europe of citizens and regions.

How will you achieve this?

Ultimately through European treaties. It's already the case that competencies are being concentrated in Europe. However, we want this shift to fall under the control of the European Parliament. The coordination of laws should therefore lie with the European Parliament and not with the EU Commission.

We also aim, for example, to establish the most favorable tax regimes for business and, based on this, to harmonize corporate tax in Europe. Apart from that, we continue to pursue the goal of changing copyright law.

To the public, your proposal to change copyright law often sounds as if you are demanding free access to copyrighted works. Authors would thus earn even less.

We want to make access possible as a rule and to facilitate non-commercial private copying. We believe that the current copyright law is outdated. But above all we want to change the system so that it's not copyright holders who have control of the works, but the authors. In other words, we do not think the task of the political system is to defend outdated business models.

This means that authors should market themselves and not sell their products via middlemen?

In principle, yes. This has become so much easier in the Internet era. Anyone can set up a website.

Your core issue is still the "digital democracy" and the related grass-roots democratic process. In other words, you want to include all voices in the political process. That means a long process of debate and is already difficult within a single country. Do you think that is feasible for all of Europe?

Yes, we stand for more democracy and want to explore how we can achieve more democracy. As we understand it, democracy means everyone can be heard and minorities are taken into account. We are strongly in favor of more citizen participation.

We would also like to strengthen the rights of the European Parliament. If the right to initiate legislation were to be introduced in the European Parliament, that would be a clear step towards more democracy. It would mean that MEPs would also be entitled to propose laws and wouldn't have to wait for the Commission.

In Germany you are calling for more transparency in politics. More decisions will be visible to all. Does this also apply to Europe?

We have seen that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement on measures against product piracy was agreed by the European Commission and the U.S. entirely without publicity, and was thus entirely opaque. It was even the case that the agreement text was not submitted to the EU parliament when requested, but had to be published on the Internet platform Wikileaks. This shows a very clear lack of transparency.

Interview: Günther Birkenstock / sgb
Editor: Michael Lawton

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