Sunday

27th Sep 2020

Commission seeks legal clarification on controversial anti-piracy treaty

  • The Commission is seeking clarification from the EU Court that ACTA does not infringe freedoms enshrined in EU law (Photo: Agnes Lisik)

In the face of mounting public and political pressure, the European Commission on Wednesday asked the Union's highest court to clarify whether the controversial anti-piracy treaty (ACTA) is in line with EU law.

Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who led the EU’s negotiating team on the treaty, said he wants the court to “cut through a fog of uncertainty” by assessing whether ACTA was “incompatible - in any way - with freedom of expression and information or data protection and the right to property in case of intellectual property. “

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But he also reiterated his support for the treaty, saying that it would “protect jobs that are currently lost because counterfeited and pirated goods worth €200 billion are floating around on the world markets.”

He re-asserted that ACTA would not affect Internet freedom - one of the main charges put by critics. “It will not change anything in the European Union, but will matter for the European Union," he said.

Expressing his frustration at the arguments put forward by internet campaigners, De Gucht said that the debate “must be based upon facts and not upon the misinformation or rumours that has dominated social media sites and blogs in recent weeks.”

De Gucht’s announcement was accompanied by a statement from Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding saying that she was “against all attempts to block Internet websites”. But Reding added: “The ACTA agreement does not provide for new rules compared to today's legal situation in Europe”.

The move comes as the commission seeks to reassure public opinion and shore up support for ACTA among MEPs in the European Parliament.

A wave of public protests against the treaty this year has seen five of the 22 EU countries set to sign the treaty announce a halt to their domestic ratification process. In the European Parliament, meanwhile, newly elected President Martin Schultz joined his colleagues in the Socialist and Democrat group in voicing his opposition to the current deal.

Socialist MEP David Martin, in charge of the dossier in the parliament, welcomed the decision saying that the “ruling will be a good guarantee for the impact on fundamental rights”.

Others saw it as a vindication of their opposition to the text. Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht described it as “hopefully a nail in the coffin of this far-reaching and unnecessary agreement.”

Commissioner Reding, who last month released proposals to overhaul the EU’s data protection legislation, emphasised Brussels' commitment to Internet freedom, noting that “copyright protection can never be a justification for eliminating freedom of expression or freedom of information.”

Blocking Internet access was “never an option”, she added.

The referral of ACTA to the court for a legal opinion is not expected to delay parliament's deliberations on the treaty. The trade committee will start it work with a public workshop on 28 February. The draft report is expected to go before plenary in June.

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.

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.

Opinion

The Internet renaissance of the EU court

Two new cases on Acta sent to the EU court in Luxembourg could revive its role as an engine of European integration, writes Lassi Jyrkkio.

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  2. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US
  3. Far right using pandemic to win friends in Germany
  4. Visegrad countries immediately push back on new migration pact
  5. Why no EU progress on Black Lives Matter?
  6. EU migration pact to deter asylum
  7. 'Era of EU naivety ends', MEP pledges on foreign meddling
  8. Anti-mask protesters pose challenge for EU authorities

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us