Steinbrück: Nobody knows what has been negotiated

Peer Steinbrück, Member of the Bundestag, Chair of the German-U.S. Parliamentary Friendship Group, and former German Federal Minister of Finance

Moderator: Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Global Attitudes Project, Pew Research Center, Non-Resident Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States

US PEC on Cross-Border Data Flows in TTIP and other FTA

The US President Export Council discusses its proposed data flow provisions (June 19, 2014) as a means to counter the rush to privacy protection and denounces privacy measures of foreign governments as a trade barrier and digital protectionism. No further arguments are provided to back up these claims and allegations. CHAIRMAN McNERNEY:
.. Ginni, you warmed up earlier today over breakfast, on cross-border data flows, but why don’t you give us a summary of the second letter on cross – data border flows? MS. ROMETTY [IBM]: Okay.

Encryption on the TTIP agenda

The European Commission General directorate for trade confirms that electronic encryption is among the discussed topics:

On ICT, the two sides have so far exchanged analysis on some specific topics, such as e-health, encryption, e-accessibility, enforcement and e-labelling.

German Parliament questions on TTIP

Thanks to the tool Offenesparlament.de you can find what questions are asked by Members of the German Bundestag (MdB) concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to the German government. For instance the Government stipulates that sectoral exclusions are impossible because of WTO principles (Dr. Maria Flachsbarth, Parl. Staatssekretärin beim Bundesminister für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft):
Dennoch ist es aus der Sicht meines Hauses aufgrund von WTO-Bestimmungen ausgeschlossen, einen gesamten Bereich wie zum Beispiel den Agrarsektor aus diesem Verfahren bzw. aus den Verhandlungen zum TTIP auszunehmen. It needs further analysis why and how bilateral negotiations are governed by WTO trade principles.

A word on chlorinated chicken in TTIP

These days the European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht claims chlorinated chicken was not a valid concern of the TTIP negotiations. EU investment agreements will explicitly state that legitimate government public policy decisions – on issues such as the balance between public and private provision of healthcare or “the European ban on chicken carcasses washed with chlorine” – cannot be over-ridden. In the US it is common to use chlorine for desinfection of slaughtered poultry. The EU denies these US imports on food safety grounds under 191 TFEU (precautionary principle). The chlorinated chicken became a poster child of consumer campaign groups against the TTIP and raised suspicion of the European public against the TTIP.

Commission says no IP harmonisation with TTIP

The Commission announced:
Given the efficiency of their respective systems, the intention is not to strive towards harmonisation, but to identify a number of specific issues where divergences will be addressed. What does “harmonisation” mean within the European Union institutions? Addressing legal and regulatory divergences between member states. Or as Wikipedia puts it:
In relation to the European Union, harmonisation of law (or “harmonisation”) is the process of creating common standards across the internal market. Though each EU member State has the primary responsibility for the regulation of most matters within their jurisdiction and consequently each has its own laws.

EPO software patents continue despite 10th anniversary of the European Parliament vote

Brussels, 24 September 2013 — Ten years after the historical vote of the European Parliament to ban software patents, the EPO, the patent community and large companies continue to push for their validation through the Unitary Patent Court. Benjamin Henrion, president of the FFII, says: “Freedom of programming has won that day, but it did not take long for the enemies of freedom to fight back. While freedom fighters went back to their businesses and families, the patent community kept pushing for the next step, a central patent court in order to validate the software patents granted by the EPO.” FFII vice president Rene Mages declares : “The patent microcosm excels to lobby the European commission and to change the designation (in a way a clumsy strategy) specially when our activism is winning : CII, EPLA, London Agreement, UPLS, and now Unitary Patent with a new Patent Court but the main goal is an invariant : to make official an intolerable drift of the patentable subject matters since 1986 (see Vicom case law). This type of underhand drift is profit-making for the patent microcosm, that goes without saying.”

ACTA opinion draft in the Civil Liberties Committee

The ACTA draft opinion of Dimitrios DROUTSAS was presented to the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament. You could view a video recording of the meeting on the European Parliament website (start 11.15). 07.05.2012

DRAFT OPINIONof the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairsfor the Committee on International Tradeon the compatibility of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Mexican States, the Kingdom of Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America with the rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (COM(2011)0380 – C7 0027/2012 – 2011/0167(NLE))

Rapporteur:Dimitrios Droutsas

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs pursuant to Rule 36(2) of European Parliament Rules of Procedure makes the following observations with respect to the compatibility of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Mexican States, the Kingdom of Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the Swiss Confederation and the United States of America (ACTA) with the rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the Charter).1

General framework

1. Acknowledges that intellectual property rights (IPRs) are important tools for the EU in the ‘knowledge economy’ and that adequate enforcement of IPRs is key; recalls that infringements of IPRs harm growth, competitiveness and innovations; points out that ACTA does not create new IPRs, but is an enforcement treaty aimed at tackling effectively IPR infringements;

2. Recalls that both the content of previous versions of the agreement as well as the current text together with the level of transparency connected with the negotiations of the agreement have been questioned recurrently by this House;2

3.

Médecins Sans Frontières deeply concerned

As a treatment provider for LDC, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is deeply concerned about the impact of ACTA as part of a larger enforcement agenda on the production and supply of affordable, legitimate medicines. They urge contracting States not to sign or ratify ACTA unless all concerns related to access to medicines are fully addressed. MSF relies primarily on generic medicines procured internationally….Many developing countries have no domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity and governments and patients rely on imported generic medicines. Generic competition is the main driver of pharmaceutical price reductions … ACTA is…