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…

Global Europe – European Parliament vs. De Gucht

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is adopted under the so called “Global Europe” strategy of the European Commission. In its resolution of 22 May 2007 on Global Europe – external aspects of competitiveness the European Parliament demanded with regard to intellectual property rights:

60. Stresses that European IPR policy towards developing countries should not go beyond TRIPs Agreement obligations, but that it should instead encourage the use of TRIPs flexibilities;

That contradicts the presentation of ACTA as an “advanced standard” over TRIPS, as consistently argued by the Commission. Commissioner Karel de Gucht, for instance, told the European Parliament plenary (10 Sept 2010):

What we are aiming at is simply setting an international standard in IPR enforcement that is reasonable, balanced and effective, and thus goes beyond the current WTO rules on IPR: the TRIPS agreement. This is the ultimate objective, on which I am sure we all agree.

Greens/EFA envoked RoP36 on ACTA

The Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament officially envoked 36 of the Rules of Procedure concerning ACTA. In a letter to the Parliament President Jerzy Buzek from October 2011 group leaders Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit officially envoked RoP 36(2). With Human rights groups like Amnesty International rallying against the ACTA treaty that call makes a lot of sense. Rule 36 : Respect for the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

1. Parliament shall in all its activities fully respect fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Article 41 – The Ultimate Answer

Your nation has already signed the agreement and ratification is pending. You don’t get anything from unprofessional apologies from diplomates who signed ACTA. Simply request your  government to file an Article 41 note. The Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Democracy, The Internet, and Everything is 41. ARTICLE 41: WITHDRAWAL
A Party may withdraw from this Agreement by means of a written notification to the Depositary.

MEP Phil Prendergast has a few questions on ACTA

Members of the European Parliament could submit as many written parliament questions to the Council and the Commission as they like and force these institutions to make official statements. If you have a technical question about specific ACTA provisions or procedural oddities feel free to suggest your Member of Parliament to table them. Most MEPs are not as industrious in tabling parliament questions as Phil Prendergast (S&D, Labour Party Ireland)  recently, and they limit their tabling to the “priority questions”/”oral questions”, where they have limitations but the institutions have to answer in a faster pace. In the past most of the numerous questions on ACTA were posed to the Commission, not the Council. However, only the Council is competent to answer the procedural specifics of the strange criminal sanctions parts.

Smoking gun on ACTA Criminal Sanctions

We discovered a smoking gun on the criminal sanctions aspect of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). A declassified document reveals that the Commission made proposals and fundamentally steered the negotiations on criminal sanctions in ACTA for which no corresponding EU harmonisation exists. There is no “Acquis” element on criminal enforcement of intellectual property rights, yet. Criminal sanctions in ACTA were formally negotiated by the Council “Presidency” on behalf of the EU member states. The findings reveal that the European Commission was much stronger involved than it previously admitted.

Why DG Trade wants ACTA

Pedro Velasco-Martins (EU-Commission DG Trade) explains the preconceptions and activism around the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA):

“No impact assessment” is the new impact assessment

ACTA would be considered by the European Parliament. Now a simple fact gets openly admitted:

“IMPACT ASSESSMENT: no impact assessment was carried out.” and further the Commission claims without any evidence:

“At the same time, ACTA is a balanced agreement, because it fully respects the rights of citizens and the concerns of important stakeholders such as consumers, internet providers and partners in developing countries.” Don’t you agree that is contradictory? Either you assess the impact or you don’t.

No fair use in ACTA

When the European Parliament adopted its position on the proposed EU draft directive on criminal sanctions they also included the following safeguards, a fair use provision. Member States shall ensure that the fair use of a protected work, including such use by reproduction in copies or audio or by any other means, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship or research, does not constitute a criminal offence. The MEPs also amended the proposal from the Commission on the matter of parallel importation:
Criminal sanctions shall not be applied in cases of parallel importation of original goods which have been marketed with the agreement of the right-holder in a country outside the European Union. As announced in Official Journal C 252 of 18 September 2010 the European Commission decided to withdraw their proposal for a Directive on the criminal enforcement of intellectual property rights because member states didn’t want to adopt it. In particular the Dutch parliament notified the Commissioner Frattini that the EU lacks competence to adopt these measures.

Closing the criminal legislation gap of the European Union

EU level Criminal law is a very delicate issue. In the European Parliament a new document from the Commission would be examined: “Towards an EU Criminal Policy: Ensuring the effective implementation of EU policies through criminal law”. Criminal law measures comprise intrusive rules, which can result in deprivation of liberty. This is why the Charter of Fundamental Rights – made legally binding by the Lisbon Treaty – provides important limits for EU action in this field. The Charter, being the compass of all EU policies, provides for a binding core of rules that protects citizens.