This interview was translated and republished with the kind permission of PCinpact. We have added our comments on some of the misinformation in Ms Gallo’s statements. See notes 1-6 at the end of the article.
Marielle Gallo, who is a member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels, proposed a draft Opinion that was in favour of ACTA. After the International Trade Committee became the fifth Committee to reject ACTA (19 to 12), this European Parliamentarian talks us through the story so far and the future of this reviled text.
How do you feel after the rejection of ACTA in the Parliamentary committees?
The dossier is not yet finished. There will be a vote in plenary where, I can assure you, I am not under any illusions. The only thing that I would point out is that, if this is about a fear of breaches of fundamental rights or inconsistency with the body of EU law, I don’t understand why my colleagues do not wait for the decision of the Court of Justice following the referral by Commissioner De Gucht. However, if it is a result of the campaign of misinformation that we are being subject to for the past few months, I can perfectly understand the results that we have seen. In the Legal Affairs Committee, of which I am a member, the vote was 10 to 12 because here we are dealing with jurists, I could appeal to their sense of reason, their reasoning and the law (note 1). Now in the other Committees, something is happening that you have been able to see: they applaud… what are they applauding? That the streets made the law in this dossier? I don’t know…
Based on what some MEPs said, they appear to be applauding the citizens
Our task is to represent the citizens, but because they are busy with other things, our task is to think for them! Note 2
If ACTA respects EU law, if it doesn’t change anything, doesn’t touch anything… what’s the point?
Having been signed by 38 countries and not just in the EU, the Agreement served, serves, could have served, will serve, maybe – I can continue conjugating the verb in every tense – to harmonise procedures in order to fight counterfeiting and piracy. But particularly the counterfeiting of physical goods such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics which are a risk for the health and security of citizens.
ACTA does not always distinguish between these goods
There are 41 articles in ACTA, and there is only one that refers to the digital environment. Only article 27 mentions digital issues, which launches the internet community into their campaign of misinformation. But, as I repeat in all of my interventions: ACTA poses no risks for the student who downloads in his little room. A crime is not committed unless it happens on a commercial scale. Not everybody is Megaupload as far as I know. Note 3
The absence of a definition of serious crime is criticised
If you say so.
Also many European Parliamentarians
The MEPs who voted against don’t appear to have done their homework. The term “commercial scale” is used for 15 years in European texts. Until ACTA, miraculously, everybody knew the difference between individual scale and commercial scale. It is fairly difficult not to understand, but when one doesn’t want to understand…Note 4
It is exactly the fact that ACTA relies on a doctrine rather than a clear text
Would they have preferred us to say “the student who downloads illegally in his bedroom runs no risk”? Note 5
One can hope that lawyers can define notions in a more clear way. When you speak of a campaign of misinformation, I have a naive question: whose campaign, for what?
Listen, you must be aware that Anonymous turned up in the Polish parliamentary assembly. It isn’t just a question of misinformation. It is a soft form of terrorism that scares people. They are afraid. This is a fantasy. ACTA has become a fantasy. And that is relayed by the whole Internet network. I have great relations with Jérémie Zimmermann, but I don’t punch with his weight. Note 6
The EPP is considering tabling a resolution to delay the text. Do you think that it is dead.
I don’t think at all that this text is dead. We will talk about ACTA again, this is clear. I don’t know what the EPP plans to do, but I know that the Court of Justice will rule. And so, we will have an answer to the questions we are asking. And starting from there, maybe the Commission will take initiatives.
Maybe to reformulate some of the elements?
To clarify what certain people don’t want to understand. But I don’t think that all of these clarifications will convince them to approve ACTA because it is an ideology, a fantasy. It would also be necessary to change the name because nobody knows what it is, but everyone is against it.
Do you have a plan B?
Me? I have a whole alphabet. The next step is the vote in plenary. I can’t promise that reaon will win nor the interest that Europe has in protecting ourselves from counterfeiting from China and India, the application of good practices in this policy area and serving as an example.
Note 3: Ms Gallo fails to recognise that the fact that only one article refers to the digital environment does not mean that the other articles do not cover the digital environment. Furthermore, Article 27 proposes privatising enforcement in the digital area, so she has no way of knowing what types of infringement will be prioritised by the internet companies that would be policing the Internet. (back)
Note 4: It appears that Ms Gallo is the one who did not do their homework. The European Commission, as explained in the “roadmap” for the IPR Enforcement Directive, points to problems for citizens’ rights with regard to the vagueness of the definition of “commercial scale”. (back)
Note 5: It would have been helpful not to propose privatisation of online enforcement, so that citizens could have legal certainty and could rely on the rule of law and presumption of innocence. (back)