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Tomorrow the European Parliament's International Trade committee will vote on ACTA. The choice for committee members is clear. On the table is the rapporteur's report, recommending rejection, and one amendment, calling for postponement. An amendment in favour of consent to ACTA was withdrawn. But mystery surrounds the voting process, as rumours circulate that it will be a 'secret' vote. And at a pre-vote discussion today, the battle lines were forming.

The key decision for the meeting was not in fact, whether to consent to ACTA, but rather whether or not the Parliament should vote now, or post-pone the vote until the European Court of Jusitice has provided its ruling. The timing of this ruling is unknown. ACTA was referred to the ECJ by the European Commission last month.

EU Trade Commissioner made a special appearance at the INTA committee meeting to put his viewpoint one last time. He held out a rather weak olive branch that the Commission would work on clarification of the Digital Chapter but his key message was to ask the Parliament for postponement of the final vote until after the Court of Justice ruling.

Unfortunately for Mr De Gucht, his statement was skilfully drawn to generate anger rather than consensus. Whilst some MEPs obviously sympathise with the Commission's stance, they generally remember that they are the democratically elected body, and they do not like being told what to do by the Commission.

At the INTA meeting, only one of the Party Groups spoke in favour of postponement. That was the ECR. Syed Kamall, speaking for the ECR, said that 'one of the reasons why the Commission made the referral was to address the concerns of citizens".

The EPP spokesman, Christofer Fjellner, withdrew his amendment recommending consent.

Mr Fjellner was really quite cryptic. He has previously established a pro-Internet position, but has been pushed by the EPP to a back down. I suspect he was pushing the boundaries with his withdrawal today, noting his slightly dishevelled appearance which he always seems to have when under pressure.

Mr Fjellner said he did support post-ponement. His amendment had been the one that recommended consent to ACTA, but he withdrew it saying

"There are many concerns around ACTA" he said, anyone who has not realised that must be deaf and blind ... The Commission has not done enough to look at those concerns...I will withdraw my amendment because clarification is not on the table".

All other groups spoke in favour of an immediate vote ( ie not to postpone). The INTA committee therefore votes tomorrow.

The Trade committee vote follows four other European Parliament committees that have all voted to reject ACTA ( technically, they decline consent). See my previous posting Committees give thumbs down to ACTA despite dirty tricks

One final thought ... It does shed a rather strange light on the ECR position and I do wonder if the ECR are doing the bidding of the UK's DCMS, or possibly even of our industry-cuddly regulator, Ofcom.

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 asMonica Horten, EU Parliament Trade committee to press ahead with ACTA vote www.iptegrity.com, 20 June 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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