Tuesday

16th Aug 2022

EU countries sign unpopular anti-counterfeit treaty

  • Anti-counterfeit proposals have sparked outrage (Photo: Billy R)

The European Commission and 22 EU member states have signed up to a controversial trade agreement in a move marked by cyber attacks and street protests.

Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands and Slovakia were the only EU countries not to put pen to paper at the signing ceremony in Tokyo on Thursday (26 January) of the so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).

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

The European Commission told EUobserver the hold-up is "purely procedural" and that they will come on board shortly.

The international treaty was created in behind-closed-doors talks between EU countries and select other World Trade Organisation members over the past five years to enforce intellectual property rights on both digital and physical products.

The commission says the EU loses some €8 billion every year from counterfeit items which flood its markets and that Acta will protect jobs.

It will become EU law after it is ratified by the European Parliament and member states.

The treaty arouses strong emotions among pro-free-speech campaigners, who say it gives authorities too much power, going beyond the equally controversial US Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa).

In signs of a new crackdown on internet freedoms, the US' Federal Bureau of Investigation in recent days flexed its muscles over online file-sharing website Megaupload.

Dutch police acting on US requests arrested one of its founding members and a similar sting operation took place on the other side of the world in New Zealand.

Acta critics believe signatories will not only gang up with internet providers against 'undesirable' internet users but could also exploit it to undermine access to generic medicine in developing countries.

The Tokyo events saw notable protests in the EU capital and in Poland.

The European Parliament's website was taken off line on Thursday as hackers bombarded it with a 300,000 hit-a-second denial of service attack. In Warsaw, thousands took to the streets shouting slogans such as "No to censorship" and "A free internet."

Its passage through the EU parliament could be difficult amid strong distrust in some parts of the assembly.

The French Socialist MEP Kader Arif who drafted the parliament's report on Acta resigned as rapporteur on Thursday.

He called the treaty "a masquerade" and said it was rushed through without proper public consultation.

Meanwhile, the Green group has accused parliament of burying a negative assessment by its legal services carried out last year.

"Numerous analyses over the past few months have raised serious doubts about the compatibility of Acta with EU law, particularly provisions on fundamental rights,” German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht said.

Wikipedia blackout targets US anti-piracy laws

Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia has triggered a 24-hour blackout of its English language site in protest against anti-piracy legislation currently under discussion in the US Congress.

Battle lines drawn up in EU row on Acta

The European Commission has stepped into the growing row over the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement, Acta, as leading MEPs refuse to fast-track parliamentary approval due to bad faith in talks.

Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal

Greece has become embroiled in a wiretapping scandal that led to the resignation of its intelligence chief as well as the Greek prime minister's top aide.

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. Germany rejects visa ban for Russian tourists
  2. Iran responds to EU's 'final text' on nuclear deal
  3. Model minority myths
  4. EU must make public who really owns its fishing fleets
  5. Germany needs to cut gas use by 20% to stave off winter crisis
  6. Europe's wildfire destruction set to hit new record
  7. How Putin and Erdoğan are making the West irrelevant
  8. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us