Monday, July 2, 2012

#ACTA: three days to deal a fatal blow, start calling your MEPs!

ACTA: We’re almost there!

This Wednesday (4th July), the European Parliament will hold a plenary vote as to whether to give consent to the provisions within ACTA. So far, your efforts have helped to ensure that all five of the Committees (INTA, LIBE, JURI, ITRE and DEVE), whose responsibility it was to scrutinise ACTA and present their findings, have consecutively recommended its rejection. Their voices will be influential as to the way in which the European Parliament will vote on Wednesday – but so will yours!

What’s next?

The vote on Wednesday is the most important. The decision of the European Parliament will determine whether ACTA becomes binding upon the 27 EU Members States. The European Parliament can vote to oppose, approve, or refer the matter to the European Court of Justice, but it cannot alter the content of the treaty.

What are we up against?

Shortly after the INTA vote, Greens MEP Amelia Andersdotter accused EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht of placing “undue pressure” on the INTA Committee by asking [them] to vote in a certain way. A day prior, de Gucht told the Committee that, regardless of their recommendation, the Commission would “nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do”. Should the ECJ “question the conformity of the agreement with the Treaties”, he said, “we will assess at that stage how this can be addressed”.
It would seem that, despite consistent, significant, and legitimate democratic opposition to the treaty, Karel de Gucht is determined to press ahead with ACTA in any way he can. “Clarifications”, promised to be made should the ECJ decide against ACTA, are simply not possible: the treaty has now been signed, and so its contents cannot be amended unless it is first ratified.

What is wrong with ACTA?

We believe that ACTA is such an imbalanced treaty that it disproportionately and unnecessarily puts innovation and freedom of expression at risk. By attempting to deal with two hugely different issues – the counterfeiting of physical goods and digital copyright infringement – the treaty lacks the kind of surgical precision necessary to ensure that fundamental rights are not sacrificed in pursuit of its goals.
Furthermore, ACTA promotes and incentivises the private 'policing' of online content through, for example, its broad thresholds for its criminal measures. It exacerbates such problems by failing to provide adequate and robust safeguards for fundamental freedoms. We set out some key points in our briefing paper.
From the moment it was sprung upon Europe, following a drafting process held in secret, the passage of ACTA has been lubricated by a total disregard for democratic principles. The European Commission has effectively sought to move decisions about ACTA further away from the people and their elected representatives.
There has been a positive consequence of all this: we have seen a renewal of interest in the workings of European democratic institutions, as large numbers of people engage with difficult debates and complex institutional processes in an attempt to understand and influence the passage of ACTA through Europe. People like you have helped to make sure that the democratic process is respected and obeyed.

What do I need to do?

The decisions of the five Committees were, quite rightly, heavily influenced by the many people across Europe who contacted their MEPs to explain the problems with ACTA. The vote in the European Parliament will be no different.
For what is hopefully the last time, we’re asking you to get in touch with your MEP and explain to them how ACTA is flawed, how you want them to vote, and why.

Who is my MEP?

We’ve listed the names and contact details for each of the 78 MEPs representing constituents within the United Kingdom. Find yours below, and give them a call! more