Big News: Germany Says It Won't Sign ACTA [Update: … Yet]

from the wowsers dept

Okay, things just got serious over ACTA. In our post on Latvia bailing on signing ACTA, we noted that in joining with Poland and the Czech Republic, these were still much smaller European states, and unlikely to have too much of an impact. But… now comes the really surprising news that Germany has decided that it won’t sign. Germany, of course, is the largest EU economy. Details are sparse, but even though the country had earlier agreed that it would sign it, the Foreign Office has apparently revoked that decision and will not sign the agreement… We’ll update more later as more details come in. However, this is big news and could really stop ACTA. Update: Another source on this suggests that Germany is saying that it is putting its plan to sign on hold, but may sign later. It had intended to sign soon, but is now going to wait until the EU Parliament decides how it wants to go. So they haven’t dropped ACTA entirely, but this definitely shows that the protests are worrying politicians.

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Comments on “Big News: Germany Says It Won't Sign ACTA [Update: … Yet]”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It’s possible that it’s just a move to dodge the upcoming demonstrations, but I doubt it’s a wise move then. The German Foreign Office doesn’t make it a habit to be like “sign that shit now…oh wait… DON’T sign that shit now!”. Everyone who wasn’t yet fully convinced that there is a problem with ACTA will take a closer look after they saw the European powerhouse waffling like this.

isaac Kotlicky (profile) says:


I’m left without a humorous, possibly snarky comment to make…

*slow claps* Go team!

Even if this is just “passing the buck” to the EU, everyone faltering on it because they’re afraid of public backlash will push ACTA to die.

Wandering alone.
A vagrant with no citizenship, no land to claim as his own.
Pity him, feel his pain, his uncertainty.
Poor, destitute, and downtrodden, he’ll wander the blighted, war-stricken landscape, searching for news of his family.
But his parents SOPA and PIPA have already died in the war, and he hasn’t heard from his brother TPP for months.

There. Found my sarc.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


For those of us on this side of the pond it’s important to remember that the Federal German Republic elects it’s representatives by a form of proportional representation. As Hephaestus says if Germany signs ACTA and it doubles the vote for the Pirate Party and increases support for the Greens, who already oppose ACTA the shift in parliamentary representation would be far larger than it would be in first past the post systems such as the United States, Canada or the UK.
If it’s a doubling of support then the effect on the “old line” parties would be immense.
This may be one of the reasons the Germans are holding off.

Frank (user link) says:

Waiting for the summer

With all the protests going on and in planning, the German government might have decided to wait for the European Fussbal championships or the Olympic games to sign ACTA. It will be less noticed then.

Seriously, the German minister for Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, argues that the EU should explain why ACTA is needed. Current German law would already be enough to comply with ACTA.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


I suspect the support difference in Germany and the UK has as much to do with the electoral systems in place in each nation.

The UK, well at least England, is a first past the post system which tends to “punish” new parties rather than reward them. The proportional system used in Germany allows for new and not yet in the mainstream parties such as the Pirate Party and the Greens to emerge and win seats.

At this point voting Pirate in the UK is a protest vote only, in Germany it means something.

(By the way I’m no defender of proportional representation particularly in large countries such as Canada until some of the kinks get worked out such as how do we fire a rep who isn’t performing as we’d like him/her to. Virtually impossible under most forms of PR.)

Wizz (profile) says:

It is a good news.
Why? Because for a couple of days, it would’ve seem like the eastern europe countries might be trying to leverage other stuff with this desaprobation. Because of EU’s structure, it gets difficult if a couple of countries desagree.
This treaty was pushed hard by France and other “wealthy” members, but it consequently opened a small crack: other european countries could use their signature to negociate.

Except that now that Germany is letting it in the air for a small bit:
1/ It begins to be newsworthy for more classics newspapers
2/ It legitimates the pull from eastern countries.

So even if its a very delicate pull, it’s suffisient to implie better perspectives on the subject.

Anonymous Coward says:

It might still be a tactical move, but the justice minister, Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, is from the junior partner of the coalition government, and known as an outspoken civil rights advocate (many years ago, she resigned from the same position over a law authorising large scale police wire taps, which she couldn’t support).

That said, the German government is of the opinion that the national parliament needs to ratify it too. The conservative party supports ACTA, and Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger’s party does largely too. So if the two partners come to an agreement internally, the national parliament will ratify ACTA. Ultimately, the European Parliament will be expected to vote on it too, by the summer, though, there are still some opportunities for campaigns.

Anonymous Coward says:

Schnarrenberger is a member of the German liberal party and one of the few remaining members who isn’t just liberal in name only.
Her track record suggests that her concerns are genuine, not just voiced to appease protestors and voters.
Still, she’s just one minister, and it’s very likely – pretty much a given – that the majority of the rest is in favor, so don’t relax just yet.

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