By EDRi

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [ENDitorial: ACTA vor der endgültigen Abstimmung im EP | https://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_10.11_ENDitorial_ACTA?pk_campaign=edri&pk_kwd=20120606]

Over the past two weeks, all four European Parliament (EP) committees
that are providing an “opinion” on ACTA have voted against the proposal.
The next steps will be a vote in the responsible Committee on 20/21
June and final vote of the full Parliament on 3 July.

It is worth remembering that, so far, a total of only 175
parliamentarians have had an opportunity to vote and 98 of these (56%)
voted against ACTA, with a large number of abstentions. The results in
the different committees varied widely. Only one MEP in each of the
Development (DEVE) and Civil Liberties Committees (LIBE) voted in favour
of ACTA, while the vote was comparatively close in the Industry and
Legal Affairs Committees. A total of 37 parliamentarians voted in favour
of ACTA.

While this headline is very positive and very welcome, the fight is far
from over. There are still Parliamentarians who wish to support ACTA,
even if this now means humiliating the Parliament itself by avoiding a
vote until after the European Court of Justice ruling next year. Efforts
are still being made by some Parliamentarians to give Commissioner De
Gucht one last opportunity to address the Parliament to plead for a
delay of the vote. Even during the votes in DEVE and LIBE some
Parliamentarians tried to disrupt the Parliament’s work by introducing
last minute amendments to delay the final vote.

As a result, ACTA has now become much more than ACTA. It has become a
test for the functioning of the European Union institutions. For the
first time since the Lisbon Treaty has came into force, the European
Parliament has had the courage to stand up for itself. It has (so far)
refused to be derailed by the political games of the European
Commission. The late (they had already referred ACTA to the Parliament)
decision to send the proposal to the European Court of Justice is
correctly being understood as a political ploy.

The Parliament has also, so far, had the maturity to see through the
weakness of the lobbying of the parts of industry that support ACTA.
Lobbying letters to the Parliament vacillate between explaining that
ACTA changes nothing and there is no need to be afraid, to ACTA is
hugely important and will cost Europe jobs if it is not accepted. The
rather weak ploy of the music industry (IFPI) of writing bland letters
in favour of ACTA and then lobbying uninterested industry groups to
co-sign has also so far failed to impress MEPs.

The Parliament has also shown a new ability to hear the voice of
citizens. There is a new mood in the Parliament regarding civil
liberties and the Internet. Parliamentarians were asked by the
Commission and parts of industry to ignore “misinformation” about ACTA
from civil society. However, as more and more independent and credible
voices – the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),
the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the European Data
Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and others – lined up to support the
analysis of civil society, the Parliament realised that the civil
society’s voice must be listened to.

But we must not forget that there are over 700 MEPs in the European
Parliament, only 175 have so far had the opportunity to vote and just
56% actively voted against ACTA. We must maintain the pressure until the
very end. After years of campaigning on ACTA, we are four weeks away
from a vote that will determine the strength and credibility of the
civil society and even the European Parliament itself for many years to
come. It is not the time to be complacent. It is the time to redouble
our efforts.

OSCE media representative urges European Parliament to reassess ACTA to
safeguard freedom of expression (14.02.2012)
http://www.osce.org/fom/88154

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the
“Communication from the Commission — A Single Market for Intellectual
Property Rights — Boosting creativity and innovation to provide economic
growth, high quality jobs and first class products and services in
Europe” (6.03.2012)
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2012:068:0028:01:EN:HTML

Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the proposal for a
Council Decision on the Conclusion of ACTA (24.04.2012)
http://www.edps.europa.eu/EDPSWEB/webdav/site/mySite/shared/Documents/Consultation/Opinions/2012/12-04-24_ACTA_EN.pdf

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)