Jul 04 2012
ACTA dead in water
ACTA dead in water
In am proud to say that the highly controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will not come into force in the European Union after the plenary of the EU Parliament today supported my advice and rejected the ratification of the international agreement.
ACTA is now dead in the EU thanks to the support of the European Parliament for my Report. I am very pleased that the Parliament has followed my recommendation and rejected ACTA. The Treaty was too vague and was open to misinterpretation. I will always support civil liberties over intellectual property rights protection.
This is a historic day in terms of European politics. For the first time the European Parliament has used the powers granted by the Lisbon Treaty to reject an International Trade Agreement. The Commission and the Council will now be aware that they cannot overrun the Parliament, which represents and defends citizens’ rights. This vote represents true democracy in action and the coming of age of the European Parliament.
I regret the fact that the EPP (the Conservative Grouping in the European Parliament) has consistently disregarded people’s concerns and the advice of the Parliament on ACTA’s challenge to fundamental rights. They tried to bring secrecy and delay to this vote until the very last minute. Fortunately we were able to build a strong majority and defeated their call for a postponement.
Now it is time to look forward and tell the Commission that we are willing to work hand in hand to fight counterfeiting wherever we find it. This time the Commission must act with public opinion and put aside copyright issues. They can be dealt with separately and at a later date and after further consultation.
ACTA was wrong from the start. It was negotiated in secret, and tries to put together incomparable elements in the same Treaty; incompatible elements such as counterfeit goods and on-line copyright.
On top of that, the lack of clarity sparked fears among internet users and many experts alerted us to the risks for fundamental rights – we listened and acted accordingly.
European MPs need to learn from this sorry mess, we need to listen to the people; we need to start again from scratch. We want to fight counterfeiting and we are willing to start working as soon as possible on a good solution one our voters are comfortable with.
What is ACTA?
• The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is an international treaty aiming to standardise copyright protection measures.
• It seeks to curb trade of counterfeited physical goods, including copyrighted material online.
• Preventative measures include possible imprisonment and fines.
• Critics argue that it will stifle freedom of expression on the internet, and it has been likened to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa).
• Acta has been signed by 22 EU members, including the UK, but is yet to be ratified by the European Parliament.