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In spite of the cloak and dagger secrecy with which the European Commission is trying to shroud its ACTA negotiators, Trade Commissioner Karel de Grucht let slip a few nuggets of information on Tuesday  afternoon - including comments on 3-strikes measures.


Speaking in a hearing with the European Parliament's Civil Liberties committee, which was public, Commissioner De Grucht said that he did not expect much progress at the next round of the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement)  negotiations - which will be in Washington in late July.  And he further predicted that there was   unlikely to be movement on ACTA  before September.

The reason for the stalling is a difference of

opinion between the negotiating countries over the scope. Some want the ACTA to include  patents and designs, others want it to be ‘just' trade marks and copyright.


On the Internet issues, De Grucht was questioned heavily by  MEPs Stavros Lambrinidis and Jan Albrecht, (and one other whose name I did not quite catch).


Stavros  Lambrinidis, pointing out that the devil is in the detail, pressed Commissioner De Grucht on ISP liability. He expressed the concern that ACTA may not force a 3-strikes regime but does allow it, and that under such a regime, ISPs could be obligated to follow the downloading patterns of their users.


The answer from Commissioner De Grucht  was unexpected – and quite concerning. De Grucht acknowledged that a 3-strikes approach is not forbidden by ACTA, but that any implementation is down to Member State or EU law.  He further said that individual member states may adopt 3-strikes measures, citing France as his example. Then he went on to say “it is not excluded that the EU would adopt legislation in this respect and that would be material legislation”. 

From what I understand, the European Commission had shelved any such plans that it might have had in the wake of the Amendment 138 debate in the Telecoms Package. Unless this is a hint that something has changed.If that is the case, then it is in the public interest for it to be clarified. 

  De Grucht  also  claimed that ACTA is in line with the E-commerce directive - a view which would be difficult to substantiate if put to the test, and illustrating once  again how  DG Trade do not appear to understand the nature of the legal changes that ACTA could create.

 Jan Albrecht asked about the Telecoms Package final agreement, to which Commissioner De Grucht did not provide an answer.


A video of the European Parliament Civil Liberties (LIBE) session  on ACTA  is available via this link :


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. 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) ACTA will stall until Autumn, says European Commissioner , 14 July 2010 .  


Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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