April 23, 2012

FFII letter to Legal Affairs Committee

Print More

The European Parliament Legal Affairs committee will consider its rapporteur’s draft opinion on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) on Wednesday 25 April 2012, at 16.50. The next day, 26 April 2012, at 10.00, the committee will vote on the adoption of the draft opinion (Agenda points 8 and 31). The draft proposes: “The Committee on Legal Affairs calls on the Committee on International Trade, as the
committee responsible, to propose that Parliament give its consent.” There are no amendments, it is a yes or no vote.

Today the FFII sent this letter to the committee:

ACTA is not inherently safe, but inherently dangerous

Dear Members of the Legal Affairs Committee,

We are writing to express our concerns with the Legal Affairs Committee’s draft opinion on ACTA.

As Ms Gallo, the rapporteur, rightly points out in her draft opinion, ACTA’s proportionality has to come from general safeguards, the implementation and the European Court of Justice. As academic and NGO opinions noted, ACTA’s civil, border and criminal provisions themselves are often disproportional and go beyond current EU law. [1] These provisions lack precise limitations and conflict with the general safeguards. The conflicts will have to be resolved during implementation.

ACTA requires rewriting during implementation. Without a precise implementation – which IP maximalists in Commission, Council and Parliament will try to prevent, we will face many years of disproportionality and legal uncertainty, until the European Court of Justice has finally sorted out the issues – if that ever happens.

In countries with less strong legal traditions and fundamental rights protection, the situation will be worse. With ACTA, we do not export the rule of law, but undermine it. ACTA is not inherently safe, but inherently dangerous.

Whether ACTA will or will not go beyond current EU law also depends on other countries party to ACTA and external dispute resolution panels. [2] Compatibility with current EU law is not guaranteed.

ACTA will foreclose future legislative improvements in response to changes in technology or policy. EU law is relatively new and under review, the Union needs to retain policy space.

The Legal Affairs Committee should invite the Committee on International Trade, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament withholds its consent to ACTA.

Yours sincerely,

Ante Wessels

Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure

[1] http://acta.ffii.org/?p=992

[2] EP INTA study: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/INTA/studiesdownload.html?languageDocument=EN&file=43731