October 20, 2010

Marietje Schaake’s (D66, NL) plenary intervention

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October 20, 2010 – European Parliament Plenary

Marietje Schaake (ALDE). – Mr President, yesterday the Commission adopted a strategy to mainstream the legally binding EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. As liberals we proposed this, so this is music to my ears.

Today the Commission posted information on ACTA after the end of the last negotiations three weeks ago. The site has a paragraph called ‘positive aspects of ACTA’, but there are also some questions that might be labelled otherwise.

Firstly, do trade agreements or law enforcement treaties – which I think ACTA really is – also fall under the mainstreaming of fundamental rights? Will the Commission do an assessment?

Secondly, is the Commission willing to go back to the negotiating table if fundamental rights are at risk through ACTA? Will the Commission wait to finalise the negotiations to take the Parliament’s resolution of early next year into real account? As far as I know, no country has put its initials on a single page of ACTA.

When it comes to the internet, ACTA even breaks new ground, the statement reads. The preamble states that ACTA seeks ‘to promote cooperation between service providers and rights holders’. Article 2.18.3 goes on, ‘each party shall endeavour to promote cooperative efforts within the business community to effectively copyright infringements. This implies extra-judicial measures and challenges the division of power’. Article 2.18.4 states that the competent authority, not necessarily judicial, should have the power ‘to order an online provider to disclose expeditiously to a rights holder information sufficient to identify a subscriber whose account was allegedly used for infringement’.

Besides pointing to the word ‘allegedly’, I would like to stress that internet service providers are concerned that they will have to start enforcing the law. So some room needs to be made under the heading ‘negative aspects of ACTA’ to assess the fundamental rights aspect that ACTA still has in the current draft and that the Commission from now on is legally obliged to mainstream.