June 12, 2012

INTA committee amendments to draft opinion on ACTA

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On 21 June, at 10 am, the European Parliament International Trade committee will vote on David Martin’s draft opinion on ACTA. The draft opinion recommends to Parliament to reject ACTA (“Declines to consent to conclusion of the agreement”).

Members of the committee tabled three amendments changing the recommendation. Two amendments, by Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (EPP) and Christofer Fjellner (EPP) change the recommendation to “Consents to conclusion of the agreement”.

The Justification added to Christofer Fjellner’s amendment is incomprehensible. Before the vote, the Commission and Member States should give guarantees to ensure legal clarity. This is impossible, such guarantees are not binding, and also depend on other countries party to ACTA and external dispute resolution panels. Mr Fjellner wants ACTA adopted with fake guarantees.

Mr Fjellner’s justification:

“Europe needs an international agreement to step up the fight against counterfeit products. The ACTA agreement provides a useful basis to this fight against counterfeit products and ensures an adequate protection of consumers and companies alike.

On the other hand there is a need for legal clarity regarding certain provisions in the agreement in respect of its digital chapter. It is important that ACTA is not open to any interpretation that would infringe EU law. We need to ensure legal clarity when it comes to internet service providers’ responsibility under ACTA and to add legal clarity as to when Member states could impose criminal enforcement measures on internet users.

Therefore we call on the European Commission and Member States to ensure that ACTA does not open up for any interpretation that would infringe EU law. Such guarantees have to be given before the European Parliament can give its consent to the Agreement.”

The third amendment, by Syed Kamall (ECR) proposes to suspend the vote:

“Decides to suspend the vote on consent to the draft Council decision; the decision on whether to consent to or reject the agreement will be reviewed once the European Parliament is in a position to take into account the opinion of the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement with the Treaties”.

That would be a disservice to democracy. The Court will only marginally test ACTA. The Parliament should take a political decision now.

The Parliament’s plenary vote may take place the 3th of July.

Committee homepage, stream will be published here | Documents: draft agenda and ACTA documents (point 18), including consolidated committee opinions