ACTA: to keep in mind

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Revision as of 10:52, 26 March 2012 by Yost (talk | contribs) (Both initiatives leave out the crucial political questions raised by ACTA)
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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

The interim report would not bring useful information to the debate :

  • According to rule 81(3), the interim report is meant to achieve “a positive outcome of the procedure”, which in this case means the ratification of ACTA. It is also meant to include “recommendations for modification or implementation”. However, ACTA has already been negotiated and signed. It cannot be modified.
  • Rapporteur Martin wants the interim report to question the Commission regarding ACTA's “implementation”. But the Commission's response will be non-binding, politically biased, and therefore close to meaningless. The Commission negotiated ACTA and has already argued that “ACTA does not change EU law” (i.e. does not require implementation measures). Such interpretation is contradicted by a study commissioned by the INTA committee and a legal opinion by leading scholars.

Arguments against EU Court of Justice referral to the EU Parliament

A Parliamentarian referral of ACTA to the ECJ would uselessly delay the consent procedure

  • There is only one question that the EP can ask to the ECJ, as defined by the treaties (see art. 218.11 TFEU): the very same one that the Commission will ask in its own referral. It is narrow in scope, legalistic in nature, and leaves out important political issues. Moreover, the Parliament will have an opportunity to send its written observations to the Court (rules of procedure 107.1 of the ECJ, in pdf) during the Commission's referral.
  • If the Parliament decided to send its own referral, the consent vote would be postponed (see rule 90(6) of EP RoP). No significant work would be undertaken before the ECJ has answered, effectively freezing the debate.

Both initiatives leave out the crucial political questions raised by ACTA

An interim report and an ECJ referral would center the debate on legal issues. Through these initiatives, the EP would be perceived as escaping its political responsibility:

  • MEPs must recognize that ACTA is a vaguely worded agreement, circumventing democratic procedures to push a repressive trend in the field of copyright, patent and trademark.
  • ACTA would set in stone today's contentious policies (an impact study is still expected on EUCD and IPRED). It would block any possibility for the EU and national lawmakers to propose positive reforms in this field.

Main arguments against a Parliamentarian referral to the ECJ and an interim report in pdf.

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.

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