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Lawyers at the European Parliament have given the thumbs up to the plan for an ACTA vote, possibly this side of the summer holidays. The rapporteur, David Martin, confirmed the position, at a recent event in London.

Mr Martin was speaking at a seminar held at the European Parliament's London 'outpost' (the existence of which was news to me until last week).

He was responding to a question on the referral of ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The particular issue was whether or not the European Parliament may vote on ACTA, whilst the ECJ is deliberating . Mr Martin said that the European Parliament's legal services were of the opinion that the vote on ACTA can take place before the ECJ delivers its opinion.

David Martin confirmed that there had been a proposal for the European Parliament to make the referral to the ECJ, but it was rejected:

"As rapporteur, I proposed to the INTA** committee that we should send ACTA to the Court of Justice, and do an interim report" he said. However, he confirmed that the view taken in the Parliament was that it would be a delaying tactic, and the INTA committee had rejected it.

This decision appears to put the Parliament in a stronger position. According to David Martin, if the Parliament itself had made the ECJ referral, it would have to wait for the answer before it could vote. But the European Commission made the referral ( which appears to have been sent on 11 May). Therefore, in his opinion, and also in the opinion of the official Legal Services, the Parliament does not need to wait for the ECJ ruling.

"The view now is that we press ahead" said Mr Martin.

Mr Martin also confirmed that if the European Parliament were to consent to ACTA, and the European Commission subsequently amended it, then any amendment would also have to be voted by the Parliament. And, if the Parliament declines consent to ACTA, and the Commission subsequently amends it, then any such amendments would also have to be voted by the Parliament.

The ACTA vote is technically a vote of consent. The Parliament may either give its consent, or decline it. The big question now is when will the vote take place?

Some sources are suggesting that it could be as early as June, although I'd suggest that July is more likely if it happens before the summer recess.

My hunch is that the powers within the Parliament will ensure that it is post-poned till the autumn.

**Note that INTA stands for International Trade commitee and not International Trade Marks Association - see Barroso's confusion: trade marks or trade committee?

This is an original article from Iptegrity.com. You may re-publish it under a Creative Commons licence, but you should cite my name and provide a link back to iptegrity.com. Media and Academics - please cite as Monica Horten, European Parliament go-ahead for ACTA vote, www.iptegrity.com , 21 May 2012 . Commercial users - please contact me

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.  

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