Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Focus

EU parliament joins commission on Acta court probe

The debate on the controversial anti-counterfeit treaty, Acta has moved to the European Parliament, with MEPs set to pose their own questions to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

At the first meeting of the assembly's International Trade committee on Thursday (1 March) - responsible for drafting the parliament's report - MEPs were presented with a petition organised by Internet campaign group Avaaz and signed by 2.4 million people who want to see ratification of Acta halted. Under the terms of the EU treaties, the parliament must give its approval before the treaty can enter into life.

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

  • The EU court in Luxembourg could hold the fate of the international treaty in its hands (Photo: TPCOM)

David Martin, the Socialist group MEP who is rapporteur on the treaty, urged the committee to refer it to European Court of Justice for a legal opinion on questions prepared by parliament.

Last week the European Commission itself bowed to public pressure when trade commissioner Karel De Gucht - who led the EU's negotiating team on Acta - called on the EU court to clarify if existing EU laws on data protection and freedom of expression on the Internet would be compromised by the new regime.

In a statement, Martin said he wanted to "guarantee a good balance between intellectual property rights, which are the EU's raw material and are fundamental for the European economy, and individual freedoms in the Internet age."

Martin also indicated that he wanted to pose questions about the role of border control agencies and in particular, the controversial issue of how and whether Internet service providers would be mandated to enforce the treaty.

"There is no 'three strikes' rule in Acta, but we do not know how Internet service providers will interpret the tasks given to them and if they feel that they have the duty to cut people off from the Internet," he added.

With the commission and signatory member states coming under increasing pressure from Internet campaigners, MEPs from across the political spectrum are taking a cautious approach to Acta.

Swedish Christian Democrat Christopher Fjellner, whose EPP group has been a big supporter of Acta during the five year negotiation process, said that MEPs would scrutinise the deal in detail before endorsing it.

"I've heard from the commission and member states that there will not be a big change in legislation. I will not take your word for it. We need to scrutinise it," he said.

MEPs also attacked the commission's handling of the negotiations and its response to public protests against the treaty.

Latvian centre-right MEP, Inese Valdere commented that "the commission has not done its job," adding: "I fear we don't have much chance of saving Acta."

Responding to the criticism from MEPs, commissioner De Gucht noted: "Our responsibility as politicians is to establish the facts and not follow the crowd."

His views are similar to those expressed earlier this week by Cameron Kerry, Internet advisor to US President Barack Obama. In an interview, Kerry told EUobserver that Acta is a good balance between intellectual property rights and freedom of expression.

Referring to the recent protests against the treaty, he commented that "rhetoric has exceeded the reality."

Six of the 22 EU countries which have signed Acta have recently halted their ratification procedures and are likely to wait for the opinion of the court and the European Parliament before they resume the process.

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.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

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. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us