Saturday

18th Jan 2020

Focus

EU parliament chief joins anti-Acta camp

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz has spoken out against a new intellectual property regime, amid growing signs it will face problems getting past MEPs.

Speaking on a German TV show - the ARD channel's Report from Berlin - on Sunday (12 February) Schulz said: "The necessary balance between the two - protection of copyright on the one hand and fundamental rights of [Internet] users on the other – is very poorly enshrined in this treaty."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He added: "I do not think that with the current draft treaty ... progress has been made."

The so-called Acta agreement is to create a new global body outside the UN or the World Trade Organisation to govern the sale of generic medicines and to stamp out counterfeit products and illegal file-sharing on the Internet.

Twenty two EU countries as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the US have signed up. But it needs all 27 member states and the European Parliament to sign and ratify the text before the EU gets on board.

Schulz, a German left-winger, took up his post as parliament chief last month and is supposed to act as a neutral spokesman for the whole assembly.

The biggest group of MEPs, the centre-right EPP, backs the deal. But the Greens and Schulz's old group, the centre-left S&D, are spearheading a campaign to renegotiate the text.

Fellow German Socialist Bernd Lange, the S&D's spokesman on international trade, told EUobserver on Friday: "It was a mistake to put counterfeit goods and copyright enforcement in the digital environment together in the same agreement."

Recalling that parliament has in recent times vetoed two other treaties - the so-called Swift pact on counter-terrorism and an EU-Morocco fisheries deal - he warned that the commission should get ready to drop its secretive approach on Acta talks.

"If Acta is rejected, the European Parliament must be involved in new negotiations with the commission to achieve a fair and transparent agreement against counterfeiting," he said.

The Green-Socialist campaign comes amid popular anti-Acta protests, voicing fears it will give governments and Internet providers too much leeway to censor content and invade privacy.

Anti-Acta rallies took place in over 50 cities in Europe over the weekend. Some, as in London, attracted just a few hundred people. But the ones in Munich (15,000), Berlin (10,000) and Prague (2,000) were much bigger.

For her part, EU justice commissioner Vivianne Reding has told this website the treaty "is fine" in terms of existing EU laws on digital freedoms and that it "has been twisted and misunderstood."

Her officials expect the five EU non-signatories - Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands and Slovakia - to rubber-stamp the text after overcoming "procedural" hiccups.

Germany and Slovakia, as well as signatories Poland and the Czech republic, have in recent days put the treaty approval process on hold pending reassessments, however.

"Acta is dead. I am ready to bet it won't get through the European Parliament," Polish S&D deputy Marek Siwiec told Poland's Radio Zet on Sunday.

The parliament's international trade committee will take a first look at the treaty in early March.

New MEP appointed to head up Acta dossier

British Labour MEP David Martin was appointed on Tuesday as the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the European Parliament’s report on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an international treaty on copyright and intellectual property protection.

EU commission admits mistake on Acta

The European Commission has admitted that it was taken aback by the scale of popular opposition to the global anti-counterfeit treaty, Acta.

MEPs to vote on Acta before summer

MEPs in the parliament's trade committee Tuesday rejected a proposal to refer Acta to the European Court of Justice, meaning the controversial anti-counterfeit treaty is set to be voted on before summer.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

Boost for Right in post-Brexit EU parliament

The far-right Identity and Democracy will overtake the Greens as the fourth-largest party in the European Parliament on 1 February, after the UK's MEPs vacate their seats.

Opinion

Why EU minimum wage is actually bad idea for workers

As president of one of the largest trade union confederations in the EU, I see the need for good working conditions and decent pay in all member states - but an EU-wide minimum wage could be used to lower wages.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us