Thursday

18th Apr 2019

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us