Monday

25th Mar 2019

Focus

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  2. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  3. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  4. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  5. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  6. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  7. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  8. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

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. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us