Wednesday

29th Mar 2017

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.

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. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  2. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany
  3. US senate approves Montenegro’s Nato bid
  4. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  5. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  6. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  7. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal
  8. EU majority against GM crops, but not enough to block them

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans