ACTA – if you think we've won, we've lost

By EDRi · April 25, 2012

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [ACTA – Wir sind noch lange nicht am Ziel |]

Following the announcement of David Martin, the Member of the European
Parliament (MEP) in charge of the ACTA dossier in the European
Parliament, that he will advise his colleagues to vote against the
proposal, a widespread assumption appears to have developed that ACTA is
now dead. This is not just wrong. It is dangerous and wrong.

The background of what’s happening in the European Parliament is as
follows. The dossier is being handled in five Parliamentary Committees –
four are providing “opinions” and one, the International Trade Committee
(INTA), has the overall responsibility. Of the four opinion Committees,
the MEPs in charge of the dossier, two are (still!) in favour – Marielle
Gallo (EPP, France) and Jan Zahradil (ECR, Czech Republic). The other
two are opposed – Amelia Andersdottir (Greens/EFA, Sweden) and Dimitrios
Droutsas (Socialists & Democrats, Greece). As well as supporting ACTA,
Jan Zahradil is also noteworthy as being one of only 28 (4%) MEPs to
vote against last week’s European Parliament Resolution to limit exports
of censorship tools to autocratic regimes.

More notably, if you extrapolate the numbers of MEPs from the political
groups of the pro-ACTA rapporteurs, the total is 42%, while the total
from the anti-ACTA rapporteurs is 33%. Thankfully, due to the
determination of the citizens who protested all across Europe, the
situation is no longer that bleak.

The current balance is approximately 52.5% of the Parliament opposed to
ACTA and 47.5% in favour. To put it in another way, if just 20 MEPs have
their minds changed as a result of the massive lobbying campaign
currently underway and organised by the European Commission and big
business interests, then ACTA will be adopted. The situation becomes
even more precarious when we consider that it often happens that more
than 5% of MEPs do not vote (either absent or abstaining) meaning that
the chances of the current tiny majority being sufficient are more a
matter of luck than anything else.

We are at a stage where every single vote in the European Parliament is
of huge value. If the pro-ACTA message of the rapporteurs in the Legal
Affairs and (shockingly) the Development Committee prevail, this will
create a new momentum and will be used to “prove” that ACTA is a
legitimate proposal.

At the same time, there are still Parliamentarians and officials in the
European Parliament whose addition to ACTA is more important than their
loyalty to the Parliament and European democracy. There are more and
more rumours of “non-political” committee officials in certain
Parliamentary committees actively working to prevent progress from being
made and individual Parliamentarians are still trying to undermine the
Parliament’s democratic prerogatives by demanding a delay of the vote
until the European Court of Justice has ruled.

Assuming that the anti-democratic elements in the European Parliament
will not be allowed to have their way, there are two possible outcomes.
The first is the anti-ACTA campaign will be anesthetised by complacency
– assuming victory, citizens will stop contacting Parliamentarians, will
not take part in demonstrations and will reassure MEPs that our
attention span is so short that we can be ignored on ACTA, that we can
be ignored on the upcoming IPRED Directive, that we can be ignored on
the upcoming Data Retention Directive. And we reassure our opponents
that no future democratic movement will be able to sustain a campaign as
long as needed. We lose. Europe loses.

Or we do our duty for European democracy and maintain our pressure right
up until the vote. And then we win. And Europe wins.

EDRi – Stop ACTA campaign page

EDPS new opinion on ACTA (24.02.2012)

Liberals and Democrats reject ACTA (25.04.2012)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee- EDRi)