ACTA Update XIII
Published 10:34, 13 April 12
What an extraordinary ride ACTA is proving.
When I first started this series of ACTA Updates back in February, I didn't hold out much hope that we would be able to stop it simply grinding through the European approval process. But over the last two months I've detailed some amazing events that have had a huge impact on ACTA's chances of being ratified. And yesterday, those amazing events culminated in the following statement from the European Parliament's rapporteur for ACTA:
David Martin, the European Parliament's rapporteur on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), today announced that he will recommend that Parliament votes against this controversial trade agreement because it does not provide enough guarantees for citizens.
Mr Martin made this announcement at the end of a public debate organised by the S&D Group in the European Parliament with representatives of industry, NGOs, unions, internet groups and citizens concerned about the effects of implementing ACTA.
David Martin said: "Today's conference has confirmed my suspicion that ACTA raises more fears than hopes.
"What it delivers in terms of important intellectual property rights is diminished by potential threats to civil liberties and internet freedom.
"When the European Parliament rejects ACTA, the Commission must work to find other ways to defend European intellectual property in the global marketplace."
His view was backed by the president of the S&D Group, Euro MP Hannes Swoboda, who said:
"Next week, at our upcoming group meeting, I will recommend to all Socialists and Democrats to reject ACTA.
"It will be important to find a way to solve standing problems through a transparent process and in a way whereby freedoms of Internet users will not be further restricted"
That makes it almost certain that the left-wing bloc in the European Parliament will vote against ACTA when it comes up for ratification this summer. The key question is what the centre-right bloc will do, given Martin's recommendation as rapporteur to reject the treaty.
Inevitably, there will be a huge amount of lobbying directed at this group, since it is the last hope of those pushing ACTA to get it accepted. That also means we, too, need to concentrate our efforts on convincing enough of the other MEPs that ACTA must not pass.