ACTA: heavy pressure on the European Parliament to delay vote
Strasbourg– Yoav Shemer Kunz – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) report about strong lobbying from industries to postpone the final vote on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), scheduled for the 5th of July. Lobbyists push for sending the agreement to legal examination by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). According to Green MEPs, this is only a delaying tactic on behalf of the industries, since there is a parliamentary majority to reject ACTA.
MEP Amelia Andersdotter (Swedish Pirates, Greens/EFA) comments: ‘Unfortunately, there are still very strong calls for voting for the agreement or for not voting at all – postpone or avoid the decision – send it back to the commission to renegotiate, or waiting for the European Court of Justice (ECJ). We get e-mails from industries asking us to postpone our vote until the court has made a judgement. Even though the will of the people has been quite clear, and even though loads of risks have been discussed extensively in this house. We, as an institution, need to face our responsibility. The parliament has to decide.’
MEP Christian Engström (Swedish Pirates, Greens/EFA): ‘Those who want ACTA at any cost try to delay. The Green group asked ACTA to be sent to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for evaluation already two years ago. All the pro-ACTA said then that there is no need at all: this is perfectly legal, and it’s not going to change anything anyway. This is obviously a delaying tactic. This demonstrated the worst aspect of the EU politics: how the Council of Ministers and the Commission do everything they can behind the scene to get their will. Many unelected civil servants at the Council and at the Commission really want to grab as much power as possible for themselves, and take it away from elected representatives of the people.’
ACTA is not dead (yet)
Green MEPs are concerned that there is lack of public awareness on this situation. Andersdotter explains: ‘Unfortunately, the issue has been downplayed a lot in the media as already settled. A lot of the media is reporting that now this issue isn’t that urgent anymore, which isn’t true. We still have the final vote to go for.’
Engström says: ‘It looks like we are winning, so people are not as mobilised as before. But we haven’t won yet. If you stop playing while half the match is still to go then you will lose.’
ACTA has already been rejected by all four different committees of the EP which were asked to give opinion on it: the committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), the committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), and the committee on International Trade (INTA). All four committees recommended rejecting ACTA. However, these recommendations are not binding.
On June 19, the Petitions Committee (PETI) will have a hearing on the petition against ACTA. The petition, ‘EU, stop ACTA, save our Internet’, signed by 2.5 million citizens, was officially handed over to the committee in May.
On June 21, the committee on International Trade (INTA), the lead committee on the ACTA dossier, will vote its final recommendation on ACTA.
The final decision on ACTA will be taken in plenary. The vote is scheduled for July 5th inStrasbourg. According to Green MEPs, the Socialists group in the EP (S&D) might still close a deal with the Conservatives (EPP) not to take a decision yet upon ACTA.