The tension mounts as the European Parliament prepares for the plenary vote on ACTA (Anti- counterfeiting trade agreement). It could be as dramatic as the Telecoms Package in 2009.
Today's ACTA debate in the European Parliament plenary session revealed a tense atmosphere as MEPs set out their final positions before tomorrow's vote. Whilst the Socialists were confident, and backed the rapporteur, it was the Greens who took on the EPP hardcore, who in turn came out with a desparate last bid to stall the vote. The big question is whether
the Parliament will cave in or stand up to the corporate lobbyists when it comes to the putting their hands on the voting machine.
Marielle Gallo, the French Sarkozy-ite MEP and sweetheart of the rights-holders, went on the defensive, whilst Sweden's Christofer Fjellner, formerly pro-Internet but now well and truly dabbed with EPP blood, took the attack.
Mme Gallo spoke emotionally and heatedly, saying "I think I am the best person to defend ctizens rights.". Before observers could recover from shock, she went on to say that increasing the number of jobs would be a benefit that citizens would appreciate.
Mr Fjellner made several calls for a post-ponement and attacked other MEPs using the 'blue card' rule. He lashed out at one S and D MEP, who pointed out that China is not a party to the agreement, and therefore ACTA risked being ineffective:
"That China is not in the Kyoto protocol, is that a case to vote against the Kyoto protocol?" said Mr Fjellner. His unfortunate target from the S and D group was not sufficiently quick-witted to point out that the Kyoto protocol is quite a different type of agreement from ACTA and does not involve punishing citizens.
It was clear that the citizen street protests had made a big impact, causing MEPs from all groups to inform themselves about ACTA, and that there have been behind the scenes arguments, some possibly quite bitter, as the one between Godlieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (German, EPP) and Jan Albrecht (also German, but Green).
Mrs Quisthoudt-Rowohl : "the Internet is not an area without rights".
Mr Albrecht: "the Internet cannot be an area without fundamental rights".
Of course, Germany is one of the Member States where the ACTA protests reached a high political level and forced the government to re-consider its position. The EPP is the counter-part to Frau Merkel's CDU, so we may be seeing some domestic politics playing out here too.
The ACTA vote is at 12.30 Brussels time tomorrow - actually, it will be sometime in the 2 hours commencing at 12.30.
The vote is currently a single vote on David Martin's recommendation to decline consent to ACTA. That is what is on the agenda. There were rumours that the EPP would find a procedural way to stall the vote.
As we know from the Telecoms Package , last minute interventions are possible. ( see my bookThe Copyright Enforcement Enigma )
It is totally a political decision. The European Parliament is deciding its opinion on certain proposed copyright enforcement measures, as reflected in ACTA or intended by it.
It follows previous decisions on the Bono report, and more importantly, on the Telecoms Package. See European Parliament rejects Telecoms Package
If there is any last-minute attempt by the EPP to stall the vote or obtain a post-ponement of the decision, the vote will be very exciting.
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, ACTA: will the European Parliament cave in or stand up?, in www.iptegrity.com, 3rd July 2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.