A new dynamic for Europe

[ Written for Simon Says column on Computer World UK ]

Last week our team was invited in Brussels for the official launch of the PPEU – the European Pirate Party. MEP Amelia Andersdotter hosted the event, and coordinated the arrival of delegations and supporters.

Founded in January 2006 by Rick Falkvinge, the original Pirate Party was created in Sweden to support free sharing of information and knowledge against massive lobbying in favor of Intellectual Property monopolies – that’s to say companies leveraging copyright and patent law as their primary business. Since then, it has evolved to embrace issues such as privacy, net neutrality, transparency and last but not least, a back-to-the-roots approach to democracy.

While it has mainlly spread in European member states, you can now find Pirates in various other countries around the world. At first rather controversial, the name is being slowly accepted in the political landscape in the tradition of words like ‘Tory‘.

“The English pirate is derived from the Greek word πειρατής (peiratēs) and this in turn from the verb πειράομαι (peiráomai), I attempt […]” explains Stathis Leivaditis, former chairman of the Greek Pirate Party. “When something doesn’t work, you have to attempt to bring a new concept. Sometimes it goes beyond a certain point and perhaps exceeds certain limits, because it is an expression of challenge; the challenge to change the system.”

The event as such was not as focussed as we could have wished. We had hoped for a historical overview on how National chapters were formed and maybe, some founding principles that would distinguish the new party from existing ones – like the ones expressed in the Pirate Party Manifesto. But the keynote speeches sounded like speakers self-promotion in preparation for upcoming elections.

Gathering Pirates from all over Europe inside the European Parliament was the real challenge though, and we can here only recognize a genuine success. It appeared that a new dynamic has started, giving hope to the attendees and encouraging further cooperation between one and another for the months, not to say the years to come.