Whose pouch does the European Parliament sit in?
The European Parliament’s notorious Kangaroo Group is getting stuck in to intellectual property rights enforcement policy this autumn. The Kangaroo Group's working group on copyright and IPR matters – the forum on intellectual property, counterfeit, contraband & organised crime - will host a lunch next week entitled “FACTS ABOUT ACTA”. It will be an opportunity for rights-holder lobbyists to bend the ears of MEPs and plead for ACTA in a quiet side-room of the European Parliament. Topping the speakers list is Marielle Gallo, the French Sarkozy-ite, pro-rights-holder MEP. At her side will be
Pedro Velasco Martins, one of the EU’s ACTA (anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) negotiators, plus the Swedish Justice Ministry director, Stefan Johansson, who negotiated on ACTA for the EU Presidency.
The ACTA lunch is hosted by UK MEP Bill Newton-Dunn. According to the invitation, it will be held in a private room within the Parliament building, and there is a charge of €15 for MEPs, and €50 for everyone else.
The title of the working group - forum on intellectual property, counterfeit, contraband & organised crime - gives a fairly strong clue as its orientation. The pricing of the lunch gives another clue as to who benefits the most from it.
The inclusion of a Mr Johannson as a speaker has prompted the Swedish MEP, Carl Schlyter, to ask questions back home. He has written to Sweden’s Justice Ministry, asking why it is participating in Kangaroo Group activities.
The Kangaroo Group is one of a number of groups which provide extra-curricula contact between corporate industry lobbyists and MEPs. It has been criticised for being a back-door entry point for lobbyists from the arms industry. In particular, the Working Group on Space, Defence and Security has been accused by a Brussels-based NGO which monitors lobbying in the EU, of being a channel for arms industry lobbyists to shape EU defence policy.
The lunch, and any other meetings hosted by the Kangaroo Group are of course non-legislative, and outside of any Parliamentary process, and as such, they could be considered not very significant. However, the group arguably provides privileged access to MEPs who will take on influential policy-making roles.
The September lunch speaker for this working group was the European Commission head honcho on intellectual property Margot Frohlinger. She was an appropriate choice. Last Spring, Mrs Frohlinger ordered a kangaroo closure* on a series of Commisson-hosted talks about online enforcement which were taking place in secret - or rather, she threw her handbag at the telecoms industry lobbyists, because they did not want to co-operate.
The long list of corporate members of the European Parliament Kangaroo Group includes all the large automobile manfuacurers, pharmaceutical companies, banks, luxury goods firm Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH), entertainment company NBC Universal, tobacco companies Phillip Morris and BAT. MEPs in the Kangaroo Group include Hungary's Edit Hercog, Germany’s Paul Rubig, and France’s Phillipe Juvin.
The NGO, Corporate Europe Observatory, has written to the European Parliamentary authorities,asking why the Kangaroo Group gets the use of European Parliament facilities on a regular basis.
Do Kangaroo Group lunches serve Moet champagne, I wonder?
*where the chair of a committee orders certain topics to be excluded.
Please attribute this article: Monica Horten (2011) EU Parliament’s Kangaroo group hops onto ACTA http://www.iptegrity.com 10 October 2011 .