Sunday

14th Aug 2022

Acta on the brink as MEPs prepare for key vote

  • MEPs on a key parliament committee will decide whether to reject the anti-counterfeit treaty on Thursday (Photo: Luc Mercelis)

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.

Four European Parliament standing committees have come out against the treaty, but the International Trade committee, is responsible for presenting the assembly’s recommendation.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It is set to adopt its position on Thursday (21 June). David Martin, the British centre-left MEP tasked with drafting Parliament’s response on Acta, is urging the committee to reject the deal. However parliament sources suggested that the vote could be tighter than previously thought.

Both the centre-right EPP group, which is comfortably the largest party group in Parliament, and the eurosceptic ECR group, are proposing rival amendments to keep Acta alive. A full Parliamentary vote in Strasbourg would then be held in July.

Although Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes appeared to admit defeat on Acta during a speech on internet freedom in Berlin last month, MEPs have come under mounting pressure from the commission and pro-Acta lobby groups over the last month to delay their decision until the European Court of Justice (ECJ) releases its legal opinion on the treaty.

International Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who led the EU’s negotiating team, will speak in favour of Acta before MEPs take their vote. He referred the treaty to the Luxembourg-based Court in March calling for clarification that it does not compromise EU laws on data privacy.

Swedish MEP Christofer Fjellner, the EPP spokesman on Acta in the committee, has proposed an amendment for parliament to ratify the treaty. Justifying his stance, Fjellner insisted that “the ACTA agreement provides a useful basis to (the) fight against counterfeit products and ensures an adequate protection of consumers and companies alike.”

Meanwhile, Syed Kamall, a member of the ECR group, is urging the committee to suspend its decision until after the court has delivered its opinion. Both political groups are said to view a delay as a compromise to avoid a full veto. The parliament’s Liberal and Green groups, along with the Socialists, have stated their intention to reject the deal.

In a move indicating that EU governments are preparing to take out the most controversial elements of the treaty in a bid to pacify MEPs, German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger suggested in a recent interview that Acta could be salvaged by removing the provisions on copyright from the treaty.

Ministers and EU officials are aware that any re-negotiation of Acta would require the consent of existing signatories to the treaty, including the US, Japan and Australia.

However, internet freedom campaigners remain unconvinced that the treaty can or should be saved.

Joe McNamee, director of pan-European digital rights campaign group EDRI, insisted that a “cherry-pick” approach would fail. “[This] wouldn’t solve the problem that the safeguards are almost all sophistry, smoke and mirrors.”

“Either the renegotiation would be so superficial as to fail to solve ACTA’s many problems, or it would involve the same exclusionary approach as the first negotiation”, he told this website.

Acta unraveling as Netherlands joins nay-sayers

The controversial anti-counterfeit treaty Acta is in danger of unraveling, with Dutch and Australian politicians the latest to cast doubt on it, despite a rearguard effort by the EU Commission and the creative industries lobby to save it.

Acta in tatters after MEPs wield veto

The little-loved anti-counterfeit treaty, Acta, has collapsed after MEPs in the European Parliament vetoed it by an overwhelming majority.

Opinion

The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark

Companies and lobby groups like Spotify, Google and International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) were able to lobby member states using live knowledge of the trilogue discussions on content-ranking systems, advertising and liability for search engines.

Stakeholder

The CPDP conference wants multidisciplinary digital future

During the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) conference, many high-level discussions will touch upon the dynamics of decision-making in the design of new technologies, including the importance of inclusion, diversity, and ethics perspectives within these processes.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us