Tuesday

26th Jul 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Pay up on migrant deal, Turkey tells EU

Erdogan told German TV the EU has not kept its promise on the migrant deal. "What would Europe do if we let these people go to Europe?”, he said, referring to the 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Poland 'changing for the worse' for Muslims and refugees

Chechen refugees have been coming to Poland for decades. Tatar Muslims have lived there for centuries. But with the new government trying to whip up fear of foreigners, "things are changing for the worse”.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels