Monday

20th Nov 2017

Focus

EU defends final Acta text on counterfeiting

  • Media leaks have created a storm of controversy around the Acta negotiations (Photo: Rupert Ganzer)

Final negotiations for a controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) have been completed in Tokyo, with EU sources insisting that the draft accord will not restrict the freedoms of EU citizens or require legislative changes.

The final text, released at 4pm Brussels-time on Wednesday (6 October), still contains a number of minor language issues that need ironing out, but this can be done without convening a new negotiating round, say officials.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

MEPs - fierce critics of the secretive nature of the talks which started in 2008 - will be debriefed on Thursday, with their approval and ratification in all signature countries needed before the deal becomes binding.

Acta supporters say the multilateral agreement is a necessary measure to combat the growing trade in counterfeited goods and online piracy, with all 27 EU states, plus 10 others taking part in the negotiations.

These are: Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Mexico and the US.

Critics say the omission of China from the list - the main source of the world's counterfeit goods - makes the deal almost worthless, an argument strong refuted by the EU. "It sets important best practices which we hope will be followed," said one official close to the negotiations, pointing to Chinese entry into the WTO in 2001, roughly seven years after the trade organisation was set up.

Wednesday's final text includes chapters on 'civil enforcement', 'border measures' and 'enforcement of intellectual property rights in the digital environment', sparking fears earlier this year that the Acta legal framework could result in large scale monitoring of internet users.

European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Peter Hustinx was also among those who earlier warned that the deal could result in the international imposition of 'three strikes' laws such as that passed in France, a rule which enables national authorities to cut off the internet access of people accused of illegal downloading.

Wednesday's text appears to say nothing on the rule. "You will not find it mentioned in any part of the text," said the EU official, indicating that Acta signatories would be free to implement the 'three strikes' rule if they wished, but are not obliged to do so.

Another controversial issue revolves around the issue of third party liability, with concerns that the agreement would make Internet service providers liable for infringement that takes place on their networks.

While the latest draft gives countries the right to order an ISP to provide information about someone who is infringing copyrighted works, it requires that such procedures "shall be implemented in a manner that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity."

Changes from earlier drafts include a section that previously placed a ban on all tools that could be used for copyright infringement, such as file-sharing software, but now focuses only on tools that are primarily designed for such purposes.

Some critics were still sceptical about the final text, however. "Whatever happens, it's still circumvention of the democratic process," Jérémie Zimmermann, the co-founder of the French digital rights group La Quadrature du Net, told the technology website ZDNet UK.

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. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse