The Pirate Party might be down, but it’s not out. New MEP Julia Reda speaks to the Parliament Magazine about what the future holds for Europe’s pirates.
Despite a legislature that saw Acta and the Prism/NSA scandal top the European parliament agenda, the Pirate Party lost two of its deputies in the recent European elections.
However, the party did gain one seat in Germany, going to the young Julia Reda, and we caught up with her in Strasbourg to find out more.
“The issue that the Pirate Party was founded around is really the copyright reform, and in the European single market we need the possibility for people to really exchange culture across borders,” explained Reda.
“When I talk to people from Austria, for example, they have a very different media system because even a lot of publicly created content is not available to them online, it’s also very difficult for new services like Spotify or Netflix to actually operate in Europe because we have 28 different licensing schemes and 28 different sets of rules and regulations.
“I think it would be better for the public, for creators and also for education if we had a single European copyright system. So in that respect I’m very much a classic pirate as this is my main issue, but of course in terms of the bigger picture I would say that the Pirate party is the party of the digital revolution,” she continued.
“We are looking at the social consequences of new technology and how we can make sure that everybody gets to benefit from new technologies, and to use them to make the world more democratic and to make education more accessible.”
The new MEP went on, “One thing which is particular about myself and also about the Pirate Party is that I think we have a real chance through the internet of filling this European party with life because the Spitzenkandidaten process was interesting to see, and the European parties are trying to associate themselves with platforms and with faces.
“But,” she said, “In the Pirate Party, the European parliament was the first parliament that we ever entered, and all our issues are decided at a European level, like data protection, internet governance or copyright.
“Through the internet we have the opportunity of really having a member’s party at the European level and this is something I am trying to do.”
Speaking on how she intends to tackle her new role as the sole EU level representative for the party, she said, “I do a bilingual podcast in German and English where I ask for the opinions of all the pirates, and not just the German pirates, about my work, like which groups to join, whether to vote for Juncker as commission president and so on.
“These are issues which I am discussing with all the European pirates and I very much see myself as a representative of the European Pirate Party, not just the voters from Germany,” she explained.
At just 27, Reda is one of the youngest MEPs in parliament. When asked if her youth is ever questioned, she responded, “Yes, I get that a lot from older politicians, they say that you should have years of work experience and possibly several children and have been in the army or whatever.
“But I think that parliament should be representative of the people, not just in terms of ideology, but also in terms of gender or age or other aspects, and the fact that I am one of the youngest members at 27 shows that a large part of the European population is still not represented.
“If we look at issues like youth unemployment or asylum, which is an issue which affects young people and children quite a lot, these are things that are on the agenda in Europe and I think young people should be part of the legislative process because the decisions often affect them even more in the long run compared to people who are well represented, people who are 50 or older,” argued Reda.
Finally, when asked about the task at hand, she said, “I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m curious to see how far I can take this, whether I can have an actual European online democracy system or something like that, if I can get all our members involved, but this is, aside from the policy work, something that I really want to try over the coming years.”
You can find Reda’s podcast at www.senficon.eu
Written for www.theparliamentmagazine.eu