ACTA future remains uncertain before International Trade Committee vote

19.06.2012 - 13:04

The International Trade Committee will vote Thursday morning on its recommendation for the highly debated international trade treaty, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The results of the vote are due to be put to plenary at the Parliament’s July vote.

A vote of rejection on 6 June by the European Parliament Development Committee made it the fourth committee to reject the proposal and suggest to the trade committee to do the same. The Legal Affairs Committee, Industry Committee and Civil Liberties Committee have also rejected ACTA.

David Martin, Parliament rapporteur for ACTA, advised Parliament in April to reject ACTA because it isn’t clear enough to protect citizens’ rights. Martin said, “The intended benefits of this international agreement are far outweighed by the potential threats to civil liberties.” Martin said he thought renegotiations needed to be done before passing the treaty.

Even though four committees have given negative opinions on ACTA, the vote by the trade committee still remains uncertain. The European People’s Party Group and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) are proposing rival amendments to try to keep ACTA alive. The Parliament has felt pressure from many pro-ACTA groups to wait to vote until the European Court of Justice announces its legal opinion on the issue. ECR shadow rapporteur Syed Kammall said he agrees that the Parliament should wait for the court’s decision.

On 19 June, the Petitions Committee debated an anti-ACTA petition that has been signed by almost 3,000 people. Petitioners called on the Parliament to “stand for a free and open Internet and reject the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which would destroy it.” MEPs, petitioners and the Commission took part in the debate.

At the end of May, the Dutch parliament voted against ACTA, saying it left too much room for broad interpretations. Germany, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia have all halted the ratification process in response to public outcry.