ACTA: to keep in mind

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Revision as of 19:36, 22 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 overlooking crucial political issues, which should be rejected:

  • An interim report would be neutral in nature, and would prevent the Parliament from taking, in the near future, a strong political position against ACTA and recommend its rejection. Rule of procedure 81(3) of the EU Parliament 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: to buy time, defuse the debate, and try to save ACTA's fate.
  • According to rule 81(3), 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 on ACTA's "implementation" (i.e how ACTA will be transposed into EU law). But the Commission's response will be non-binding, politically biased, and therefore close to meaningless. It has negotiated ACTA and has already argued that "ACTA does not change EU law" (i.e does not require implementation measures). However, such interpretation is contradicted by a study commissioned by the "International Trade" committee and an opinion by leading scholars. Moreover, an interim report focusing on implementation measures would overlook important political questions. Regardless whether ACTA will require direct implementation measures, it will for sure set a repressive policy-making trend in the field of copyright, patent and trademark, in the EU and worldwide. ACTA will also block any positive reform of today's dangerous and expansive copyright, patent and trademark law.

Arguments against EU Court of Justice referral to the EU Parliament

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.