European Parliament votes tomorrow to demand that the Commission provide transparency on the ACTA negotiations – and threatens to sue if they don’t.
The European Parliament is to call time on the secrecy of the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting trade agreement) negotiations. It has come to an agreement involving all of the Party groups to demand transparency and openness from the European Commission. The agreement, which is no small achievement, comes in the form of a ‘resolution' will be voted on tomorrow ( Wednesday 10 March).
The ACTA resolution follows the question-time session with the Parliament this evening, in whichan oral question on ACTA is to be asked to the Commissioner for Trade, Karel de Grucht.
The European Parliament has been working hard in the past few days to put together a resultion on ACTA. It was not easy to get all the Party groups to agree, especially since the majority EPP group still contains a number of pro-copyright MEPs. The EPP and the UK Conservatives , originally wanted a much weaker version, which would have done nothing more than slap the Commission's wrists. The other party groups - Socialists, Liberals, Greens and Left - have pushed for the Parliament to stand up for its new powers under the Lisbon Treaty.
The final resolution has a sting in its tail, in that the Parliament reserves the right to go to the Court of Justice, if the Commission does not immediately begin a process of informing it.
Another positive aspect is the call for an impact assessment.
It also calls for ACTA not include any 3-strikes measures. This is a positive move, but paradoxically, may also be where is a little weak, because it does not back up this statement with a call for ACTA not to impose any liability on ISPs. As we know, if ACTA contains any provision to make ISPs liable for copyright, then 3-strikes may still be possible, even if not explicitly stated.
The Council of Ministers also seems to be asking for more transpaency, according to this press announcement from the Swedish government.
The European Parliament resolution on ACTA, is as follows:
1. Reminds that the Commission has since the 1 December 2009 the legal obligation to immediately and fully inform the European Parliament at all stages of international negotiations;
2. Expresses its concern over the lack of a transparent process in the conduct of the ACTA negotiations which contradicts the letter and the spirit of the TFEU; is deeply concerned that no legal base has been established before the start of the ACTA negotiations and that no parliamentary approval has been asked for the mandate;
3. Calls on the Commission and Council to grant public and parliamentary access to ACTA negotiation texts and summaries in accordance with the Treaty and the Regulation 1049/2001 on Public Access to Documents;
4. Calls on the Commission and Council to pro-actively engage with ACTA partners to rule out any further negotiations of an a piori confidential nature and to timely and entirely inform Parliament about its initiatives in this regard; expects the Commission to make proposals already prior to the next negotiation round in New Zealand in April 2010 and to demand that the issue of transparency is put on the agenda of that meeting, and to refer to Parliament the outcome of this round immediately after its conclusion;
5. Stresses that, unless the Parliament is immediately and fully informed at all stages of the negotiations, Parliament reserves its right to take suitable action, including bringing a case before the Court of Justice in order to safeguard its prerogatives;
6. Calls on the Commission to conduct an impact assessment of ACTA's implementation on fundamental rights and data protection, on the ongoing EU efforts to harmonise IPR enforcement measures, and on E-Commerce, prior to any EU agreement to a consolidated ACTA treaty text, and to timely consult with Parliament about the results of this assessment;
7. Welcomes affirmations by the Commission that any ACTA agreement will be limited to the enforcement of existing IPRs, with no prejudice for the development of substantive IP law in the European Union;
8. Calls on the Commission to continue the negotiations on ACTA in order to improve the effectiveness of the IPR enforcement system against counterfeiting;
9. Urges the Commission to ensure that the enforcement of ACTA provisions - especially its provisions on copyright enforcement procedures in the digital environment - are fully in line with the acquis communitaire; demands that no personal search is undertaken at the EU borders and requests full clarification of any clauses that would allow for warrantless searches and confiscation of information storage devices, such as laptops, cell phones and MP3 players, by border and customs authorities;
10. Considers that in order to respect fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy, with full respect for subsidiarity, the proposed Agreement must refrain from imposing any so called "three strikes" procedures, in full respect of the decision of Parliament on article 1.1b in the (amending) Directive 2009/140/EC that calls to insert a new para 3 a to article 1 Directive 2002/21/EC on the matter of "three strikes"
11. Emphasizes that privacy and data protection are core values of the European Union, recognised in Article 8 ECHR and Articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which must be respected in all the policies and rules adopted by the EU pursuant to Article 16 of the TFEU;
12. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council and the Governments and Parliaments of ACTA negotiation participants.
More information from Christian Engstrom
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) European Parliament calls time on ACTA secrecy http://www.iptegrity.com 9 March 2010