Thursday

2nd Apr 2020

EPP isolated as Parliament Liberals join anti-Acta campaign

  • The Liberal MEP party group has become the latest to join the anti-ACTA camp. (Photo: KBRI Brussel)

Guy Verhofstadt became the latest leading figure to oppose the anti-counterfeit treaty Acta when his Liberal group announced that they could not approve the deal without significant re-negotiation.

At a press conference held on Tuesday (24 April), Verhofstadt, as well as the group's spokespersons on Acta, Niccolo Rinaldi and Sophie In’t Veld, described the treaty's provisions as “contradictory “ and “overly ambitious," calling instead for a sector-by-sector approach to counterfeit goods. In a closing remark, Rinaldi said that for Acta, “the game is over."

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 join as a group

Criticising the European Commission's negotiating role on behalf of the EU, the Alde group insisted that they would be "supportive of multilateral efforts to protect intellectual property rights" provided that these were based on "a transparent and publicly discussed mandate."

The Liberals’ move means that three of the European Parliament’s four largest groups have come out against Acta, with the Socialist and Democrat and Green groups having already signalled their intention to veto the deal. According to research by the London School of Economics, the voting behaviour of the Liberal group invariably tilts the majority.

The parliament’s international trade committee, which yesterday began debate on a report prepared by centre-left MEP David Martin, is expected to come forward with a list of changes to improve Acta, although a full re-negotiation of the treaty is unlikely as it would require the consent of countries including the US, Japan and Australia to re-open the package.

Echoing remarks made earlier this week by Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, that the treaty contained insufficient protection for civil liberties, Verhofstadt complained about the number of enforcement measures in Acta. Referring to debate on the deal in the US, he added that it was increasingly unlikely that the US Congress would ratify the treaty, commenting that Tom Wilde, chair of the sub-committee on trade in the US Senate, was also extremely critical of the negotiation process.

However, while the bureau of the parliament's international trade committee on Wednesday confirmed a timetable that would see it adopting a position in June before a vote by all MEPs in July, the legal affairs committee postponed a debate and vote on its own report. The legal affairs committee is among five committees which will adopt a consultative opinion, which has been drafted by centre-right MEP Marielle Gallo, a strong supporter of Acta.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by MEPs Christofer Fjellner and Daniel Caspary, on behalf of the EPP, declined to take a definitive position, saying that "many of the provisions in Acta provide a useful basis to step up the fight against counterfeit products and ensure an adequate protection of consumers and companies."

They also conditioned their support for Acta on the commission providing legal clarity that the treaty would not lead to internet service providers (ISPs) policing the internet and would only apply to large-scale breaches of intellectual property rights.

Supporters of Acta have also suggested that rejection by parliament could lead to a "Balkanisation" of internet regulation, with six EU countries having already ratified the treaty, which will be integrated with their national law.

Politicians divided on 'Big Brother' Internet laws

Heated debate on online privacy law has re-emerged in Washington with the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act set to be the first bill on internet piracy to be adopted by the US Congress.

Acta on the brink as MEPs prepare for key vote

The future of controversial anti-counterfeit treaty Acta remains uncertain as MEPs on the European Parliament’s trade committee weigh up whether to approve or reject the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Danish conservatives want Orban party kicked out of EPP
  2. Dutch finance minister repents on virus help
  3. France to house domestic violence victims in hotels
  4. Europe sends medical goods to Iran, despite US embargo
  5. Commission sets consultation on raising 2030 climate target
  6. 12-year old Belgian girl dies of coronavirus
  7. EU commission: no 'indefinite' emergency measures
  8. Denmark plans 'gradual' return to normal after Easter

Column

Trying to think straight about coronavirus

Clear-headed thinking becomes nearly impossible under this relentless barrage of bad news and apocalyptic analysis, Ferraris writes - a state of mind he describes as "cogito interruptus".

Analysis

Italy and Spain: worst - or just first?

Italy and Spain, the most-affected countries in the EU, have tightened their response to the coronavirus outbreak - as the pair together now account for more than half of the world's death toll.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Without European patriotism, EU decline is inevitable
  2. EU cancels April Fool's 'fake news'
  3. A coronavirus 'Marshall Plan' alone won't be nearly enough
  4. Trying to think straight about coronavirus
  5. Berlin ready to airlift Greek island refugees
  6. Von der Leyen criticises Hungary, but fails to mention it
  7. Air pollution drops in Europe, but how long will it last?
  8. Human rights abusers don't stop for virus, MEPs tell EU

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us