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Old 28-03-12, 10:12   #1
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Default MEPs to vote on Acta before summer & UPDATE

BRUSSELS - MEPs in the parliament's trade committee Tuesday (27 March) rejected a proposal to refer Acta to the European Court of Justice, meaning the controversial anti-counterfeit treaty is set to be voted on before summer.

Deputies rejected the court proposal by a large majority of 21 to five. Immediately after the vote the centre-left Socialist group and the Greens indicated their intention to reject the treaty.

Bernd Lange, spokesman for the Socialist group on the trade committee, welcomed the result of the vote, saying that he expected the treaty to "probably be buried before the summer."

"Today's decision not to ask for legal advice from the Court of Justice is the first sign that this Parliament is ready to reject Acta. It was a mistake from the beginning to put counterfeiting and Internet content in the same agreement. We cannot support the text as it is."

Meanwhile, Green MEP Amelia Andersdotter commented that the treaty "should never have been concluded in the first place" adding that Acta would "lead to a heavy-handed and repressive enforcement of copyright with no regard to the basic rights of citizens."

However, the Parliament's Liberal group, along with the centre-right EPP, the assembly's largest party grouping, which has been most sympathetic to the treaty during the negotiations, have yet to commit themselves.

Acta – the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – is meant to protect intellectual property rights, as well as target counterfeit goods and generic medicines, but critics say it undermines freedom of expression and privacy online.

UK Labour member David Martin, who has been charged with drawing up Parliament's position on the agreement, had mooted the possibility of the EU assembly referring Acta to the Court to respond to questions regarding its implementation.

In a statement on Tuesday, Martin denied that this was "a political trick to delay the decision", arguing that his intention was "to shed some light that would help members of Parliament make their decision."

Internet campaign group La Quadrature Du Net had suggested that the Parliament referring the deal to the Court would have delayed a final decision for over a year.

Last month EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who led the EU's negotiating team on the treaty, responded to mounting political pressure by asking the Luxembourg based Court for a legal opinion on whether EU laws on privacy and data protection would be affected by Acta.

Under the EU treaties, international treaty agreements such as Acta require the approval of the European Parliament before entering into force in the EU.

Martin is expected to present his opinion on whether the trade committee should accept or reject Acta at the end of April. The trade committee is itself expected to vote on the matter at the end of the following month while a final plenary vote is likely to occur in June.
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Old 31-03-12, 04:57   #2
 
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Default re: MEPs to vote on Acta before summer & UPDATE

Some more info on this and thanks Al.Ternat


ACTA Battle Nears Climax in Europe

Posted: 28 Mar 2012 04:38 AM PDT

In a February announcement, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht said that following discussion with fellow Commissioners, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would be referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The treaty, which is aimed at harmonizing global copyright enforcement globally, has largely been formulated behind closed doors and its critics fear it will only lead to censorship and surveillance of Internet users.

The plan was to ask the ECJ to look at ACTA and decide if it conflicts with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and right to privacy.

But despite De Gucht describing the referral as a “needed step” to “cut through this fog of uncertainty”, this will not now happen.

Yesterday, the European Parliament’s trade committee rejected the plan to send the treaty to the ECJ with 21 MEPs voting against, 5 in favor and 2 abstentions, meaning that ACTA could now be put before Parliament as soon as June. Had ACTA been referred to Europe’s highest court, it would have meant a delay of one, maybe two years.

This, according to activists, would have dampened the momentum of their anti-ACTA work which reached unprecedented levels and Europe-wide protests earlier this year.

“Referring ACTA to the court is no substitute for the political procedure needed to check this agreement and determine democratically whether its entry into force is in the European interest,” said Pirate Party MEP and Shadow rapporteur on ACTA for the GreensAmelia Andersdotter.

“Only a democratic ratification process via the European and national parliaments is able to provide such a judgment, and we therefore welcome today’s decision to continue with this process,” she concluded.

ACTA will now be pushed through committees in the European Parliament during April and May and then to a final full Parliament vote at its June plenary session.

“If ACTA dies in European Parliament, then it’s a permakill, and the monopoly lobbies will have to start fighting uphill,” said Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge in a comment. “If ACTA passes, the same monopolists get tons of new powers to use, and close the door for the foreseeable future behind the legislators for a very necessary reform of the copyright and patent monopolies.”

After its existence was first discovered by the public in 2008 after documents were uploaded to Wikileaks, ACTA’s opponents now have just 10 weeks to pull out the stops.
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