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.
In a Guardian interview this week Wikileaks founder Julian Assange stressed the importance of their disclosure of the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement (ACTA). European observers do not have to rely on leaks because public transparency is a right of citizens under the Lisbon treaty. You can request legal access to ACTA related documents from the Council. Either documents are available through the register or for the confidential ones just fill out a form with your address and mention the requested document numbers. The Council will either enable public access to the documents and sent you a pdf or deny your request and state reasons for that or they sent you a crippled, a redacted version.
Parliamentary questions 16 June 2010 E-4292/2010 Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117
Yannick Jadot (Verts/ALE) , Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE) , Sandrine Bélier (Verts/ALE) , Christian Engström (Verts/ALE) , Karima Delli (Verts/ALE) and Oriol Junqueras Vies (Verts/ALE)
Subject: Lack of safeguards in ACTA undermining access to medicines
In the WTO Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council), the enforcement of intellectual property rights is a topic of formal discussion including, but not limited to, discussion of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The WTO is also the forum in which India and Brazil are pursuing consultations with the EU over seizures of in-transit generic drugs on grounds of alleged patent infringement. Our reading of ACTA is that it pursues tighter enforcement but without the balance and safeguards embodied in the TRIPS Agreement (e.g. Articles 1, 6, 7, 8, 30, 31, 40, 41, 42 and 44(2) thereof). Certain provisions in ACTA may present barriers to trade in legitimate generic medicines by failing to provide protection for goods in transit through countries with differing national patent rules, thus allowing inappropriate seizures of medicines on the strength of mere allegations that trademarks are similar; by providing brand-name companies with inappropriate access to confidential information about suppliers or customers; or by introducing new global norms on third-party liability and criminal sanctions for aiding and abetting infringement that will deter distributors and customers from working with legitimate generic firms. Collectively these news norms may frustrate countries’ efforts to avail themselves of TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access to medicine, and may conflict with the recently adopted ‘Council Conclusions on the EU role in Global Health’ (e.g. paragraph 16(a) thereof). Will the Commission act on Parliament’s request of 10 March 2010 for an impact assessment of ACTA and ‘consult with Parliament in a timely manner about the results of the assessment’?