ENDitorial: ACTA is not dead

By EDRi · May 9, 2012

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Deutsch: [ENDitorial: ACTA ist noch nicht am Ende | https://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_10.9_ENDitorial?pk_campaign=edri&pk_kwd=20120509]

Next week, the European Parliament’s Development Committee (DEVE), the
first of the five Committees responsible for providing opinions on the
proposed ACTA agreement will vote on its draft recommendation.

As of today, it appears more likely than not that the Development
Committee will vote in favour of ACTA. The Parliamentarian leading on
the dossier is Czech Eurosceptic Jan Zahradil. While there is an obvious
attraction for a Eurosceptic to support (ironically following the
European Commission’s line very diligently) an EU proposal which is
deeply unpopular and flawed, a “yes” vote would come as a big shock to
many observers and risks creating political momentum that could
potentially breathe new life into the allegedly “dead” proposal. Of
course, a “yes” vote can only happen if the Parliamentarians, whose job
is to support policies that defend development, ignore the opinions of
organisations like Médecins sans Frontières, ignore the analysis of the
dangers for development described by the German Ministry of Economic
Cooperation and Development and, last but not least, ignore the
political direction agreed in several of the political groups. To
contact Parliamentarians on the DEVE Committee to ask them not to vote
in favour of Mr Zahradil’s position, please see the links below.

The dangers of splits in the political groups that have already declared
their opposition to ACTA are best illustrated by the amendments tabled
to the draft Opinion in the Industry Committee (ITRE). There, in line
with the majority of interventions in the Committee discussions, the
Parliamentarian in charge of the dossier, Amelia Andersdotter (Sweden,
Greens/EFA) proposed rejection. However, the Danish Liberal Jens Rohde
(who sat alongside his group leader at the press conference where the
Liberal group’s against ACTA was announced) has co-signed an amendment
with the conservative EPP group, in order to delete the recommendation
to reject ACTA. In response to a blog article criticising him for this,
Mr Rhode said that, when preparing an Opinion for another Committee on a
proposal, it was not the role of the Committee to make a recommendation.
He did not explain what the purpose of an Opinion is, if it is not to
express an opinion.

The third Committee working on this dossier is the Legal Affairs
Committee (JURI), where Marielle Gallo (EPP, France) is responsible.
Unsurprisingly, as Ms Gallo is a staunch defender of repressive measures
to support IPR enforcement, her draft report is in favour of ACTA. Her
solution to ACTA’s problems is to require the European Commission to
produce annual reports on ACTA’s implementation and, where breaches of
fundamental rights are identified, to “immediately” persuade the
European Court of Justice to bring them to an end. And this would be a
good strategy if the European Commission did not have a long history of
failing to respect its reporting obligations (its data retention report
was seven months late), if the Commission had not proposed “voluntary”
breaches of European law itself, if the mechanism for the European Court
to immediately end infringements identified by the Commission actually
existed, if ACTA was a purely internal instrument and if one of the
biggest risks to fundamental rights was not from foreign companies
regulating EU freedom of communication.

The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) published the draft Opinion from
the MEP responsible Dimitrios Droutsas (Greece, S&D). The Opinion raises
a whole range of dangers for fundamental rights created by ACTA,
strongly implying that ACTA is illegal under EU law. However, Mr
Droutsas appears to prefer to include that conclusion only after the
dossier has been fully debated in the Committee. The Committee will have
a public hearing next Wednesday morning (16 May) with invited experts
from civil society (including EDRi and La Quadrature), the European
Commission, the EDPS and others.

The fifth Committee, the International Trade Committee (INTA), will be
responsible for the final Committee vote, before the dossier is sent to
the Plenary sitting of the European Parliament in July. While the draft
final report by the MEP in charge, David Martin has been published, this
Committee’s work on the dossier is at an earlier stage than the others,
as they are supposed to take the other Committee’s opinions into account
before finalising their position. Mr Martin’s draft recommendation
states that the costs of ACTA outweigh the potential benefits and it
should, therefore, be rejected.

EDRi’s Stop ACTA page

Médicins sans Frontières

German Ministry position

Danish blog article on Rohde’s amendment

Zahradil draft opinion

Andersdotter draft opinion

Gallo draft opinion

Martin draft recommendation

Infographic on the Parliament’s procedures for ACTA

Detailed information on the EU’s decision-making processes

Members of each Committee:


Legal Affairs:

Civil Liberties:

International Trade:

(contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)