The European Parliament plenary session will discuss ACTA on the 3rd of July, followed by a plenary vote the next day. The biggest group in Parliament, the EPP, is still in favour of ACTA, and most committee votes were close. Proponents of ACTA are very active. David Martin, the Parliament’s rapporteur on ACTA, told that at first he just thought protecting intellectual property rights is good, he was inclined to be in favour of ACTA. Only after he looked closer, he became critical.
The International Trade committee adopted David Martin’s draft opinion which proposes to reject ACTA, with 19 to 12 votes. Two amendments proposing to give consent to ACTA were withdrawn. An amendment proposing to postpone the vote on ACTA until after the Court’s opinion was rejected with 19 to 12 votes as well. A huge victory for civil society, Internet freedom, access to medicine and knowledge, and innovative companies. But we are not there yet.
On March 1, EU Commissioner De Gucht used overstated counterfeiting numbers, and called them the “most conservative estimates”. Will he do this again today at 6 pm? On 1 March, De Gucht said: “The most conservative estimates of the size of the global counterfeiting and piracy industry put it at 250 billion US dollars a year.” This estimate is massively overstated. The numbers are based on OECD reports.
According to Marietje Schaake, member of the European Parliament’s International Trade committee (INTA), there is a rumor that there will be a request for a secret vote on ACTA. See her tweet. Who would have somehing to hide? A small majority of groups are against ACTA. Proponents of ACTA may hope that a secret ballot may dilute group discipline, with a report recommending adoption of ACTA as result.
First the INTA committee secretariat denied the existence of coordinators’ minutes.
According to sources in the Parliament, Trade Commissioner De Gucht invited himself to the Parliament’s International Trade committee (INTA). He will address the committee just before the vote on ACTA. The INTA committee will vote on ACTA on 21 June, at 10 am. De Gucht is expected to call upon the committee to propose to Parliament to wait until the European Court of Justice delivered its opinion on ACTA. The Court will marginally test ACTA.
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.
According to the “ACTA facts” website, ACTA will give the EU an enormous boost: “Economic stimulus: €50 billion in growth and 960,000 new jobs”. That’s unexpected. According to the European Parliament INTA study, the ACTA partners already have a high level of protection of intellectual property rights, so “There does not therefore appear to be any immediate benefit from ACTA for EU citizens”. Undeterred, the Frontier Economics and BASCAP report assumes that trade with ACTA partners will increase with 5% of 67% of all current trade with ACTA partners, that is 19 billion euro. If the BRICS countries join, the report expects trade will increase with 10% of 67% of current trade with BRICS countries, that is 23 billion.