ACTA: to keep in mind

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Revision as of 00:01, 20 March 2012 by Neurone730 (talk | contribs) (Arguments against an interim report)
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This page lists key points to remember in any discussion about ACTA. It also provides information about the current procedure at the European Parliament.
To help us fight ACTA, visit our page How to act against ACTA.

Main arguments

Against ACTA in general

  • ACTA turns Internet companies (ISPs, service providers) into a private copyright police by forcing to take legal responsibility for what their users do online.
  • ACTA brings broad and dangerous criminal sanctions in a loosely defined way.
  • ACTA bypasses democracy and opens the door to a parallel legislative process, which the European MPs should be particularly angry about.

Arguments against an interim report

In its strategy to delay the final vote on ACTA and defuse the debate, rapporteur David Martin is pushing for an "interim report". This is a bad initiative, which should be rejected:

  • According to the rule 81(3) of procedure of the EU Parliament, the interim report is meant to propose "recommendation for modification or implementation". However, ACTA has been negotiated and signed. It cannot be modified.
  • Mr. Martin argues that the interim report should question the Commission regarding ACTA's "implementation" (i.e how ACTA will be transposed into EU law). But the Commission's interpretation of ACTA is already well known : "ACTA does not change EU law", so there will not be any direct implementation measures. An interim report on implementation would therefore overlooks the fact that ACTA is meant to block any positive reform of a disproportionate enforcement and expansive copyright, patent and trademark regimes. On the contrary, ACTA will provide justification for more repression in these fields and chill innovation.
  • Rule of procedure 81(3) also specifies that an interim report's goal is to achieve "a positive outcome" of the procedure, which in this case means "the ratification of ACTA". This confirms the logic of Mr Martin's proposal : buying time to defuse the debate, and try to save ACTA's fate.

Arguments against EU Court of Justice referral to the EU Parliament (transl. in progress)

An ECJ referral by the Parliament – pushed by ACTA rapporteur David Martin – is useless at best and most likely harmful, for the following reasons:

  • There is only one question that the Parliament can ask to the ECJ, the very same one that the Commission will ask in its own referral, as defined by the treaties (see art. 218.11 TFEU). It is narrow in scope, and legalistic in nature. It will fail to address ACTA's numerous political problems. The Parliament cannot simply ask any question it wants.
  • The argument that the Parliament could detail the Commission's question with its own referral does not resist scrutiny: In any case, the Parliament will have an opportunity to send its written observations to the Court during the Commission's referral (rules of procedure 107.1 of the ECJ, in pdf).
  • If the Parliament decides to send its own referral, the consent vote will be postponed (see rule 90(6) of EP RoP), and it will be easy for the minority of pro-ACTA MEPs to claim that no significant work should be undertaken on ACTA before the ECJ has answered.

Learn more

  • You should also read our counter-arguments to the Commission's disinformation about ACTA, it answers most arguments that you might encounter by those defending ACTA.

The following resources are also helpful in better understanding ACTA:

ACTA Procedure in the European Parliament

Most countries negotiating ACTA have already signed it, as well as most EU Member States.

But ACTA still needs to be presented to the European Parliament (EP) and if the European Parliament votes NO to ACTA and rejects it, this will deal a likely fatal blow to the agreement.

ACTA handcuffed world

Before ACTA goes to vote before the whole of the European Parliament, several EP committees will be giving their opinion on the text, guiding the EP's final stance on ACTA.

This is why as citizens we must contact members of these committees to make sure they hear all about what is wrong with ACTA.

The International Trade INTA Committee of the European Parliament is the main committee working on ACTA.

The Industry (ITRE), Civil Liberties (LIBE), Legal Affairs (JURI), and Development (DEVE) committees are also working on ACTA.

  1. They will first vote on their opinions after holding “exchange of views” on draft reports in the coming weeks (INTA's next exchange of views is 26/03/12 for instance).
  2. Opinions will then be sent to INTA to influence its final report.
  3. The INTA committee will then vote on its on opinion
  4. Finally, INTA will sent this final report to the European Parliament, which will take it into account for its final vote on ACTA.

The contents of INTA's report are therefore very important, and we need to make sure it reflects European citizens' legitimate concern about ACTA.

For more detailed information about the ACTA procedure in the European system, please see the procedure file.