EU Legal Review Says ACTA Negotiators Broke The Law In Not Revealing Text To EU Parliament

from the so-sorry,-it's-secret dept

Remember back when the EU Parliament voted 663 to 13 against what was going on with ACTA negotiations? The EU negotiators, who worked for the EU Commission, not the EU Parliament, seemed to brush off Parliament's concerns. However, some in the Parliament asked their legal services to determine if the EU Commission was allowed to keep ACTA secret. While ACTA has now been released, the review still happened. Hephaestus points us to the news that the analysis found that negotiators were not allowed to keep the document secret (pdf) from Parliament, and that if it had continued to the Parliament could have taken legal action. The key points:
  • Confidentiality cannot be used as a justification for not complying with the obligation to keep Parliament fully informed. Where a degree of confidentiality is justified to ensure the proper conduct of negotiations, the Council and Commission may request that agreed measure on the confidentiality of the documents be applied.
  • The obligation to inform Parliament cannot be modified or limited by any agreement among the institutions or by an arrangement with third parties which does not involve Parliament. Where documents originate from a third party, the Union negotiator may be justified in agreeing not to disclose such information without the consent of the third party concerned. In such circumstances, Parliament should nonetheless be provided with sufficient information.
  • In the case of a persistent refusal to provide it with sufficient information, Parliament could initiate proceedings for illegal failure to act.
While this might all seem moot now that the document has been released, it is worth noting that the EU's chief negotiator has said that the release was a one time deal, and they won't be releasing future drafts...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS ONE, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:46am

    THE GREAT COPYRIGHT SCAM - ENJOY

    see they are all criminals that are doing this and they want to spread there disease to Canada with there scam with copyright

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    filtercake, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 4:01am

    f#ckyeah

    given that pretty much everybody in europe is bitching and moaning about the eu parliament, they're doing a pretty good job here...

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Mr. Oizo, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 4:11am

    They wanted to join the clique

    Confidentiality cannot be used as a justification for not complying with the obligation to keep Parliament fully informed. Where a degree of confidentiality is justified to ensure the proper conduct of negotiations, the Council and Commission may request that agreed measure on the confidentiality of the documents be applied.

    This is somewhat troubling to me. It essentially states: 'yes you could have kept it secret from the public, but not from us'. It almost reads as a plea for joining the clique; which if that were to happen would make the situation even more dangerous since those politicians don't really care to understand the matter.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    sinrtb, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 4:36am

    Re: They wanted to join the clique

    You might read it like that, and i am not clear on the finer points of European Governments. I always assumed Parliment was similar to senators in the US. In the US we elect (in theory) senators to represent us, they then are privy to many things we are not. Though it would seem they are just wanting to be in the clique, what they are doing is providing oversight. Could you imagine what our military and diplomatic relations would be like if every black project had to be discussed with all the citizenry?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Mr. Oizo, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 5:07am

    Re: Re: They wanted to join the clique

    On the military oversight: yes think about that very hard. (hint: Iraq). Also, many 'black' projects are called like that because they should not see the daylight because they are amoral and very often injustifiable. I personally believe, secrecy is not a good idea. Oversight might be, but then it should be proper oversight and be in accordance with what the population wants, not with what the industry wants.

    Now, back to the ACTA crap: this is about a trade agreement; it is not something you can keep private in the end and it certainly is not something you should keep private. The fact that the EU states 'yes maybe a "degree of confidentiality" might be necessary' is bad. Who do they need to keep it secret from ? Their own population. If not that ? The Antartic population maybe ?

     

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  6.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 5:09am

    Re: f#ckyeah

    given that pretty much everybody in europe is bitching and moaning about the eu parliament, they're doing a pretty good job here...

    Actually I don't see much moaning about the parliament - most of the moaning in the UK is about the Commission - although the really anti-EU types (eg UKIP) don't like the idea of the parliament they still sit in it - and usually do a pretty good job on all the other issues.

     

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  7.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 5:13am

    Re: Re: Re: They wanted to join the clique

    The fact that the EU states 'yes maybe a "degree of confidentiality" might be necessary' is bad.

    I think that was a cautious legal opinion - that on some issues confidentiality might be needed - not necessarily on this issue.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Mr. Oizo, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: They wanted to join the clique

    That sentence is in response to ACTA and claiming that it could be related to something else, not ACTA, is placing the sentence out of context. The context in this case: the ACTA secret negotiations.

     

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  9.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: They wanted to join the clique

    No - if you read the preamble it is clear that the "ACTA context" is now moot since the public disclosure. The whole opinion now refers to confidential documents in general. Unfortunately I can't quickly copy the relevant part of the pdf for you (it appears to be a scanned document) but you will find the critical words in the final two paragraphs of page 1.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Mr. Oizo, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 5:54am

    I stand corrected; also something I didn't notice before is that this indeed merely specifies the 'proper procedures' to be followed before secrecy is allowed. They might have gotten a negative response.

     

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  11.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 6:42am

    Re:

    I didn't notice before is that this indeed merely specifies the 'proper procedures' to be followed before secrecy is allowed.
    Yes - that is certainly a big one - since how can the parliament agree to not knowing something without knowing it first - it's the old "Yes Minister" "Need to know" scam in a different form.

    http://www.yes-minister.com/ypmseas2a.htm

    "Sir Humphrey: "Now go in there and inform me of their conversation."
    Bernard Woolley: "I'm not sure I can do that, Sir Humphrey. It might be confidential."
    Sir Humphrey: "Bernard, the matter at issue is the defence of the realm and the stability of the government."
    Bernard Woolley: "But you only need to know things on a need to know basis."
    Sir Humphrey: "I need to know everything! How else can I judge whether or not I need to know it?"
    Bernard Woolley: "So that means you need to know things even when you don't need to know. You need to know them not because you need to know them, but because you need to know whether or not you need to know. And if you don't need to know you still need to know, so that you know there is no need to know"

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    filtercake, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: f#ckyeah

    agreed.

     

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  13.  
    icon
    WammerJammer (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:12am

    Once again

    Smoke and Mirrors!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:09am

    There is a general truism in law that when an executive of an organization asks a lawyer within the very same organization to prepare a legal opinion the first question asked is "What do you want it so say?"

    It is the rare lawyer in circumstances such as this who actually renders an independent and unbiased opinion. This is why, at least here in the US, courts tend to discount most such opinions.

    The truly sad thing in that the hallmark of a good lawyer is the ability to provide "bad news" to a client in a way that makes the client pleased to have received such news.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 11:37am

    While this might all seem moot now that the document has been released, it is worth noting that the EU's chief negotiator has said that the release was a one time deal, and they won't be releasing future drafts...

    Nothing will happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    I think you've missed a salient point

    The release occurred after the EU Parliament asked for a legal ruling. The ACTA negotiators probably read up on the legal rights of parliament and decided that releasing it before they were ordered to was the best option, and they no doubt will argue when parliament next wants an update that they've already released it, and that nothing substantive has changed so that parliament doesn't need an update.


    Simple but effective unless parliament is willing to fight.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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