At a Dutch House of Representatives’ committee meeting, 13 December 2011, minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Maxime Verhagen, said the refusal to provide access to the European Parliament’s legal service’s opinion on ACTA is “gek”: odd/crazy/silly. The European Parliament’s International Trade Committee asked the legal service for an opinion on ACTA. The opinion is ready and secret. The FFII requested the document. Mr Verhagen mentioned that a Dutch citizen requested the document, and that the request was rejected.
The JURI Report, the newsletter of the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee, is a very positive about ACTA. “Thus, it will provide benefits for EU exporting right holders operating in the global market who currently suffer systematic and widespread infringements of their copyrights, trademarks, patents, designs and geographical indications abroad.” Not a word about all the civil society and academic criticism on ACTA. The critical European Parliament INTA study is not mentioned. The report probably reflects the views of rapporteur Marielle Gallo, MEP, who will write the Legal Affairs committee Opinion on ACTA.
As things stand now, the European Parliament committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will not formulate an opinion on ACTA. Despite all the analysis work done on the effects ACTA will have on access to medicine, and despite health groups informed the Parliament, no Member of Parliament has asked the committee to formulate one. It seems that there is not much awareness or interest in this committee in ACTA. The window of opportunity to get the committee to formulate an opinion is closing fast. Coming week, a very last attempt can be made.
On the same day that the European Parliament had its first secret meeting on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), the Dutch parliament decided it will not take ACTA into consideration unless all ACTA negotiation texts are published. A few weeks ago, the Dutch House of Representatives’ committee of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation requested the ACTA negotiation texts (the earlier versions of ACTA). The minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Maxime Verhagen, sent the texts to parliament, adding a non disclosure obligation. In debates, Members of Parliament may not refer to the documents, nor quote from them. Sunday, Bits of Freedom sent a letter to the committee, asking the committee not to accept the secrecy.
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.
Today I refiled a confirmatory application for the European Parliament legal service’s opinion on ACTA. See also: http://acta.ffii.org/?p=904
Dear Mr Welle,
On 17 November, I filed a confirmatory application for A12541 – legal service’s opinion on ACTA. Apparently our letters crossed. Now that I received your letter, I will update my confirmatory application below. In your letter, you give three reasons for not providing access to major parts of the legal service’s opinion.
The European Parliament partly released the legal service’s opinion on ACTA, but left out the analysis on ACTA. Why? “Important trading partners of the EU, such as the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea and Switzerland are contracting parties to the ACTA agreement. Disclosure of the parts of the legal opinion under consideration dealing with questions 1, 2 and 3 would seriously interfere with the complex ratification procedures of the ACTA agreement and the EU’s relations with the other contracting parties, as it might prejudice the ratification procedures by these countries.” Really.
From: Raegan MacDonald
Sent: 17 November 2011 10:43
Subject: Need for INTA Transparency on ACTA
Dear INTA Committee Member,
Please find attached and below a letter from civil society — including digital rights, access to medicines, free software and human rights organisations — regarding the INTA meeting on 23 November, at which an unpublished Opinion of the European Parliament Legal Service on ACTA will be discussed in-camera. I am happy to discuss this particular meeting and the ACTA process more generally, so please do not hesitate to contact me directly at [TELEPHONE NUMBER] or by email at [EMAIL ADDRESS]. Best regards,
Dear Members of the Committee on International Trade,
The undersigned signatories of this letter are a group of international civil society organisations. We are extremely concerned and disappointed by the INTA Committee’s repeated insistence on keeping the deliberations around Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) hidden from the public. According to your Committee’s website,1 there will be a meeting on 23 November at 09h00 at which an unpublished Opinion of the European Parliament Legal Service on ACTA will be discussed, in-camera.
On 9 November we sent the Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade (INTA), Mr Moreira, an open letter in which we protested against an INTA meeting behind closed doors on ACTA. On 10 November Mr Moreira replied. Below you will find his letter and our reply. Mr Moreira defends the secrecy: the document is, for the time being, confidential. We maintain that secrecy is not compatible with “utmost transparency” (art 103 European Parliament Rules of Procedure).
Brussels, 9 November 2011 — On 23 November the European Parliament Committee on International Trade will discuss ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) behind closed doors. In a letter to the Chairman of the committee, Mr Moreira, the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure objects to the meeting being held behind closed doors. Since the publication of the ACTA text, discussions on ACTA have to take place in public, according to the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure). On 23 November the INTA (International Trade) committee will discuss the confidential European Parliament legal service’s opinion on ACTA. The FFII wants the opinion published before the November 23th meeting.