Monday

20th Feb 2017

EU parliament committees say No to Acta

  • Internet campaigners have rounded on the EU Commission after negotiating documents were put online. (Photo: Agnes Lisik)

The prospects of the EU ratifying the controversial anti-counterfeit treaty, Acta have been dealt another blow after MEPs on three European Parliament committees voted to reject the deal.

MEPs on the civil liberties, legal affairs and industry committees came out against the treaty, which critics claim threatens internet freedom, although MEPs from the centre-right EPP group voted in favour in the legal affairs body.

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.

Under the parliament’s rules, committees have the right to issue a non-binding opinion on a file to be considered by the lead committee.

David Martin, the centre-left MEP responsible for parliament's final report in the international trade committee, said that "the problems these three committees have identified back up my own concerns about Acta, which I raised in my report to the international trade committee."

He also expressed confidence that the plenary vote in Strasbourg would throw out the treaty, saying "I am confident that a large majority of Euro-MPs will endorse my proposal and vote against Acta."

The international trade committee is expected to adopt its position on 17 June in advance of a vote by the full parliament in July.

The European Commission is still waiting for the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice to deliver its legal opinion on the treaty, but a parliamentary veto would mean it is dead.

The votes come just days after the commission came under attack from internet campaign groups and the European Data Protection Supervisor over its part in the multi-lateral negotiations on the treaty.

European Digital Rights, a pan-European campaign group on data privacy, accused the EU executive of "comprehensive failure" after internal documents detailing its negotiating strategy were published online by the group on Tuesday (29 May).

The documents include the minutes taken by the commission from the negotiations in Paris, Seoul, Rabat and Guadalajara between 2008 and 2010.

Meanwhile, parliament sources indicated that there are a series of pending court cases by individuals seeking access to documents related to the EU's negotiating stance.

The EDR claims that the EU commission agreed to enforcement of the treaty by Internet service providers, in breach of its own inter-institutional agreement with the EU Council and parliament. They also say it signed up to a series of vague definitions which the commission itself admitted led to other countries asking the EU "to try to make them make sense."

It accused negotiators of a lack of transparency after the minutes from the Seoul negotiations in 2009 revealed that while the US had the right to disclose negotiation documents to "selected stakeholders" the EU had no equivalent mechanism.

The EDR also echoed the view held by many of parliament's Acta critics that the commission was "completely outmanoeuvred by the United States," after failing to secure safeguards on counterfeit medicines and tighter legal definitions, asserting that "this agreement, from beginning to end, was driven by the United States."

It concluded that the commission had "failed consistently to make any positive gains for itself throughout the entire negotiation process."

Meanwhile, Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht hit back at an "unfounded" opinion on Acta by Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor.

In a letter sent to parliament's legal affairs committee on 29 May, De Gucht accused Hustinx of ignoring the "explicit and detailed safeguards" included in the treaty to protect personal privacy and data protection.

He added that "the opinion systematically assumes that where the provisions of Acta leave room for flexibility in their implementation, they will be implemented in the EU."

Focus

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.

Opinion

EU must tackle Poland's bad behaviour

Developments in Washington only serve to highlight the need for positive action in the face of an overtly nationalistic and anti-rights form of populism.

News in Brief

  1. Migrants storm Spanish enclave of Ceuta
  2. Spain's princess fined for tax fraud, husband sentenced
  3. EU to invest millions in energy infrastructure
  4. Dutch data watchdog forces online vote aides to up security
  5. EU allows Lithuania to ban Russian tv channel
  6. Finland announces increase in defence spending
  7. Ex-PM Blair says Brits should 'rise up' against Brexit
  8. Nato chief says facts to prevail over fake news

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  4. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  5. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  8. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  9. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  10. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  11. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  12. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty