To use the post ACTA momentum

With the fall of ACTA this spring those of us who want an open online environment have an opportunity to move forward our positions towards those that want to overly regulate the flow of communication online. One way of doing that is by constantly reminding people of what exactly was wrong with ACTA and why no similar legislation should be allowed to infest other trade agreements currently being negotiated by the commission.We should not let ACTA be seen as a single case of success, but rather as the turning point on how Europe conduct trade agreements with other parties.

Three Polish MEPs (ZALEWSKIHANDZLIKWAŁĘSA) moved in that direction after the ACTA vote by putting the following question to the commission:

Last week, Parliament rejected the ACTA agreement by a huge majority, thus sending out a very clear ‘no go’ signal regarding any such regulatory legislation.

In the short time that has passed since, we have already been alarmed by the prospect that several significant and heavily criticised parts of the ACTA agreement (i.e. general obligations on enforcement, damages, criminal sanctions, intermediary liability rules and border measures) are expected to ‘live on’ by being incorporated into CETA (the Canada/EU trade agreement) and, possibly, into other international agreements which the Commission plans to conclude in the near future.

Since we are absolutely convinced that the Commission fully respects the position of Parliament and would not indulge in any type of legislative exercise that would undermine the voice of the citizens, as transmitted to and expressed by Parliament, can the Commission comment on this issue and allay the worrying doubts indicated above?

Now the answer has come back and from the wording it is clear that our victory regarding ACTA has made it more difficult for those who want to infest international trade agreements with overly harsh chapters on IPR. That will, of course, not stop them from trying.

The commissions reply to the question above is as follows:

1. As with all of the EU's bilateral trade agreements, the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) will contain a chapter on intellectual property (IPR). This is important because the EU and Canada are knowledge-based economies requiring an effective regime to protect their intellectual assets. For this reason, the EU is proposing rules to address several important issues that have been identified in Canada's IPR regime, namely in the area of copyright, patents, geographical indications and enforcement. However, the IPR chapter of CETA will not require the EU to modify its existing legislation, and great care is being taken to ensure that it is compatible with the EU acquis.

2. The CETA negotiations have not been concluded. Recent media reports relied upon a version of the negotiating text which is 6 months old to claim that the Commission is introducing ACTA through the back-door . That text stems from a time when ACTA had just been signed by the EU and 22 Member States and before the European Parliament denied its consent. As both the EU and Canada were in the process of ratifying ACTA at that time, it is not surprising that some provisions of that version used formulations also found in ACTA. Negotiations have now moved on and the February text no longer accurately represents the state of play.

3. The Commission fully respects the vote of the European Parliament. It develops its negotiating positions to ensure that they are coherent with EU policy. The IPR chapter of CETA is currently being reviewed in light of the position expressed by the European Parliament on ACTA and the Commission will continue to fully and rapidly inform the EP's INTA committee about progress in the negotiations.



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So they will not make the process more transparent?

I recall hearing people in the parliament say they voted against because there was no way they could be sure what they were voting about in such a short time that they had to review it. Shouldn't the commision understand this and force more transparency?

Thank you for lettings us know about this. Call me suspicious or something similar but i'll keep a foot behind regarding the Comission's reply. It seems that they are saying the same thing they did a while ago but with different words. Again, this is just me but still... We'll just have to keep an eye on these things all the time. Let us not lose the momentum that ACTA generated amongst the European citizens battling that awful thing called ACTA. Again, thank you for this.

The reasons for why the European Parliament rejected ACTA are complicated. I believe it doesn't have to do with neither the content nor the transparency in the process. The European Parliament routinely approves legal texts which go in the same line as ACTA and generally lacks a diversity and balance in the debate on copyright which they themselves are unable to recognise or acknowledge.

They also routinely approve trade agreements for which transparency in the negotiation process was very low.

The rejection of ACTA was an impulse of populism - okay, okay, we reject, now leave us alone. Unfortunately, it will be a very difficult battle to maintain that feeling in the parliament afterwards and we already have difficulties coming across.

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