26th May 2017


MEPs to vote on EU penalties against fake products

  • Counterfeit medicine is on the increase (Photo:

MEPs will on Tuesday (20 March) vote on a draft law that could see EU-wide criminal penalties for counterfeiting and violating intellectual property rights.

Members of the European Parliament's legal affairs committee will give their view on a draft report by Italian socialist MEP Nicola Zingaretti following an April 2006 European Commission proposal for a law on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

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.

According to the commission, the range and value of pirated goods - from fashion bags to sports cars and from music files to fake medicine - within the bloc is on the rise and increasingly linked to organised crime.

The commission proposal would harmonise criminal penalties in the area across the EU with a maximum of four years imprisonment and fines of up to €91,053.

Fines could go up to €273,160 if organised crime is involved or in cases of a risk to health and safety, such as counterfeit medicines or batteries.

Brussels' move into criminal matters was triggered by a landmark ruling on environmental crimes by the European Court of Justice in September 2005, which gave Brussels the power to introduce harmonized criminal laws across the EU.

The court stated that the commission is allowed to propose penal measures in order to make community legislation effective.

Scope of the law

The parliament committee vote on the draft report has already been postponed twice as the scope of the law has been of much debate.

MEPs' viewpoints have been divided between either broadening or limiting the remit of the proposed law.

Austrian Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger argues the law should only cover areas where national laws are not already in place.

"Let's focus on the large-scale organised crime," she said at the last committee meeting. "Let's leave the end-user, who didn't even know he did something wrong," she added.

Dutch liberal MEP Toine Manders at the same meeting called for consistency. "We need standards and laws recognised all over Europe."

He has also, in an amendment, called for strict anti-counterfeiting penalties to include the seizure and destruction of all counterfeit material and equipment used to carry out the infringement.

"National law can't fight international crime," Mr Zingaretti said at the meeting last month. "We have to give Europe the tools to fight international organised crime."

If the legal affairs committee adopts the report, it will face the 785-member strong plenary in April or May.

MEPs approve criminal law in copyright area

A proposal for the EU's first-ever directive harmonising criminal law in all member states has been backed by MEPs as they voted for a draft report on criminal penalties - including imprisonment - for crimes breaching intellectual property rights.

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.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.


Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms