Unprecedented Vote: EU Parliament Trade Committee Rejects ACTAPublished on 21 June 2012 @ 2:38 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
In an unprecedented move, the European Parliament Committee on International Trade (INTA) today in Brussels passed a report recommending the rejection of the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Never before has INTA voted to reject a trade agreement negotiated by the Union.
With a vote of 19 to 12 (no abstentions) INTA members followed the recommendation of British MEP David Martin (S&D Party Group). Amendments from members of the conservative European Peoples Party Group (EPP) to opt in favor were withdrawn just before the committee vote which was watched by many observers in Brussels with Twitter buzzing about what is being seen as historic.
[Update: a website of reaction statements has been created by infojustice.org and is available here.]
If EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht had agreed, as he did in a last minute exchange last night, to take concerns relating to ACTA on board, the vote might have gone the other way, EPP MEP Daniel Caspary said in a press conference after the vote. De Gucht has asked for Parliament not to rush to condemn ACTA, but to wait for an EU Court of Justice ruling on the agreement.
Caspary said the EPP agreed that ACTA needed clarifications. Martin listed the vagueness of how “commercial use” would be defined and a potential role of internet service providers as deputy sheriffs as main concerns not addressed. Also sanctions for IP rights violations were seen as disproportionate.
Caspary said his party group still hopes to make ACTA a good agreement through changes or additional protocols, but Green Party Group Member Amelia Andersdotter said there is “no cure” for ACTA’s sickness. Andersdotter described De Gucht’s last minute attempt to push for a positive vote as lack of institutional respect and asked for the Parliament to be left alone for its plenary vote on 4 July.
Andersdotter and her colleague from the Liberal Party Group, Niccolo Rinaldi, spoke of a victory that showed that “citizens’ voice might make a difference,” as Rinaldi put it. Some 100,000 citizens had taken to the streets in February against the agreement.
French civil society group La Quadrature du Net co-founder Jérémie Zimmermann said after the vote that “victory was not assured,” but “definitely at hand and much easier.”
There still is a strong lobby for ACTA, and the plenary could still reject today’s recommendation.
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