Parliament Study: ACTA Not Fully In Line With EU Rules

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) under negotiation by a group of countries including those in the European Union is more ambitious than current EU law and risks problems for access to medicines, concluded a recent study commissioned by the European Parliament Committee on International Trade. But the study stops short of calling for a flat rejection of the agreement.

The danger to medicines access is due in part to ACTA’s lack of specificity with regard to implementing support for the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. TRIPS is the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. The declaration followed in 2001.

The study, conducted by Prof. Anselm Kamperman Sanders at the Institute for Globalisation and International Regulation at Maastricht University jointly with several other experts, was leaked by several activist organisations (see here [pdf] and here).

The study comes to the conclusion: “For those European Parliamentarians for whom conformity with the EU Acquis is sine qua non for granting consent, this study cannot recommend that they provide such consent to ACTA as it now stands.” Only changes in EU law and implementation guidelines for EU member states would allow passage ACTA.

The study points to a lack of “any significant advantages that ACTA provides for EU citizens beyond the existing international framework” – especially because countries like China, India and Brazil are not part of the agreement and because IPR protection provisions in bilateral agreements and free trade agreements reached by the EU and the US are higher.

On the other hand, a rejection of ACTA would be “too drastic,” the authors said, not the least because it would be “a significant cost for no return on the part of the EU.”

While there is still the possibility that ACTA could be rejected in other legislatures like the United States, Canada and Australia, a rejection from the EU side should be weighed “in terms of damaged political capital with the ACTA negotiation partners” and “reduced prospects for stronger enforcement of IP rights in the future.” A decision in the EU Parliament might still take time, especially given that some MEPs have requested a check by the European Court of Justice.

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