ACTA ‘Could Be Buried Before The Summer’
The decision on the controversial agreement will not be delayed by referral to the European Court of Justice
European Parliament’s trade committee decided not to refer the controversial Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court of Justice in a vote yesterday.
Last month, the European Commission suggested sending ACTA to the EU’s highest court, to establish if the agreement goes against fundamental human rights such as the freedom of expression and information. Anti-ACTA campaigners saw the move as a delaying tactic. Now, the next vote by the trade committee, and later the European Parliament, could stop ACTA from ever coming into effect.
The ultimate showdown
The committee rejected a proposal by David Martin, a UK centre-left MEP, who is drafting the Parliament’s position on ACTA, to ask the ECJ to give its opinion. Martin said his proposal was meant to “shed some light that would help members of the Parliament make their decision”.
But the committee arrived at the conclusion that there was no need for another ECJ opinion. It decided to carry on with its own review of the agreement and vote on whether to approve ACTA in June, followed by a vote by the full Parliament in July.
“The decision not to ask for legal advice from the Court of Justice is the first sign that this Parliament is ready to reject ACTA. It was a mistake from the beginning to put counterfeit goods and Internet content in the same agreement,” Bernd Lange, the Socialists and Democrats trade spokesman, told European Parliament News.
“The European Parliament was not involved in the negotiations and now we are asked to say either yes or no, without the possibility of amending the shortcomings. We cannot support the text as it is. ACTA will probably be buried before the summer.”
“We can defeat ACTA. It is bad for the net, bad for culture, bad for civil liberties and bad for business. The European Parliament has a real opportunity to show that it can stand up for our rights. Let’s make sure it does so,” added UK Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye.
ACTA was written in November 2010 after four years of negotiations among the EU’s 27 members and 10 other countries, including the US and Japan. It aims to up the fight against counterfeiting and digital piracy through greater co-ordination of anti-counterfeiting measures and tough enforcement.
The treaty caused Europe-wide protests, and mobilised an army of anti-ACTA campaigners, who will be very happy with the committee’s decision.
Are you an expert on social networks? Take our quiz!