EU Commissioner Reveals He Will Simply Ignore Any Rejection Of ACTA By European Parliament Next Week

from the democracy,-what's-that? dept

The day before the EU’s International Trade committee (INTA) recommended that the European Parliament should reject ACTA, the EU commissioner with responsibility for the treaty, Karel De Gucht, had given a speech to its members, trying to win them over. Although it was short, it turns out to be highly revealing about the European Commission’s future ACTA strategy. Here’s what he said:

If you decide for a negative vote before the European Court rules, let me tell you that the Commission will nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do. A negative vote will not stop the proceedings before the Court of Justice.

That is, whatever happens next week, the European Commission will wait for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to rule on whether ACTA is compatible with EU law. If it is found to be incompatible, De Gucht admits that rather than accept this ruling, the European Commission will try to find some trick to circumvent it:

If the Court questions the conformity of the agreement with the Treaties we will assess at that stage how this can be addressed.

This implicitly confirms that the referral was simply a way to buy time, rather than an honest question about ACTA’s legality.

Even assuming the ECJ rules eventually that ACTA is compatible, there could still be a problem if, in the meantime, the European Parliament has voted not to ratify it. Here’s what De Gucht says he would do in that case:

First, I would consider proposing some clarifications to ACTA. For example on enforcement in the digital environment. We could look at this in the light of the discussions you will have had on legislative proposals which the European Commission is set to put before the Parliament and the Council. Or for example, we could seek to clarify further the meaning of ‘commercial scale’.

Remember that ACTA is now signed, and cannot be altered; so De Gucht is instead trying to fob off European politicians with this vague idea of “clarifications” — as if more vagueness could somehow rectify the underlying problems of an already dangerously-vague treaty. That’s clearly just a sop; here’s the real plan:

Second, once we will have identified and discussed these possible clarifications, I would intend to make a second request for consent to the European Parliament. Whether the Parliament will consider it under this legislature or the subsequent one, will be for you to decide.

This is an extraordinary admission. De Gucht says that even if the European Parliament unequivocally refuses to ratify ACTA next week, he will simply ignore that result, and re-submit it at a later date.

In other words, De Gucht won’t accept the idea that the European electorate, through their representatives in the European Parliament, might possibly want to reject something they were not allowed to know about until late in the negotiating process, and to which they were unable to provide any meaningful input. In his view, ACTA must be passed, and ACTA will be passed — whatever anyone else thinks about it.

Let’s hope that the members of the European Parliament bear in mind this undisguised contempt for the democratic process in Europe — and for them — when it comes to voting on ACTA next week, and any time thereafter it might be re-presented to them under De Gucht’s shameful plans.

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Comments on “EU Commissioner Reveals He Will Simply Ignore Any Rejection Of ACTA By European Parliament Next Week”

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92 Comments
The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: The Movie and Recording Industries Have Spoken!

Not giving up after a failed attempt isn’t ignoring the law unless EU law has some bit about never being able to submit the same proposal twice. I have no idea whether or not this is the case but it would be amazingly stupid as it would apply to good proposals as well as bad.

Assuming that’s not part of EU law, most of the opinions offered in this article are at best mistaken and at worst outright lies designed to inflame the readers.

Look, I’m not an ACTA shill. I hate the idea of ACTA being questionably passed in the US and hope it never passes in the EU. I hate it because I’m opposed to both the material of the agreement and the underhanded tactics that were used throughout its creation process. I’m just as opposed to using lies and other forms of deception to combat it though. Glyn should have either stuck to the facts or kept his fingers off the keyboard. Articles like this hurt more than help.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: The Movie and Recording Industries Have Spoken!

Did you not read de Gucht’s statement? Glyn correctly reported what he said. The EU Trade Commissioner is going to keep on bringing ACTA up until he gets what he wants. He said here:

If you decide for a negative vote before the European Court rules, let me tell you that the Commission will nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do.

We’re taking it to ECJ anyway, so there!

here:

If the Court questions the conformity of the agreement with the Treaties we will assess at that stage how this can be addressed.

We’ll work on a plan to resurrect ACTA

here:

I would consider proposing some clarifications to ACTA.

We could set out interpretations to ACTA.(Please ignore the fact that it can’t be actually changed.)

and here:

once we will have identified and discussed these possible clarifications, I would intend to make a second request for consent to the European Parliament

I’m not taking no for an answer. I’ll be playing “Are we there yet?” until you give in and ratify ACTA.

That’s the problem. He’s using attrition to get around our objections, adding layer after layer of procedures and submissions till the MEPs give him what he wants in the hope that he will finally go away.

JustMe (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Mighty Buzzard

I’m a little confused. These aren’t anecdotes or 3rd hand ramblings. Glyn used QUOTES from De Gucht. Quotes are, by definition, one of these ‘facts’ you yourself wanted to see from Glyn. Not only that, but these quotes were made in front of the EU Parliament. De Gucht absolutely knew these statements were on the record.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: The Mighty Buzzard

What are you confused about? I provided the quotes from de Gucht himself with some “interpretations” of my own in bold. I didn’t “want to see them,” I copied and pasted quotes from de Gucht’s own statement, just as Glyn did. And by “statement,” I mean this: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/12/477&format=HTML

What exactly are we arguing about here? Glyn quoted from this, then I quoted from this. Will you please quote from this if you’re going to argue about it, please?

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The Mighty Buzzard

The quotes were fine. The inferences and assertions that was somehow illegal, immoral, or different than how democracy is supposed to (and usually does) work and the conclusion that he holds the EU Parliment in contempt were ludicrous. With the possible exception of the last since there are pretty good odds of any random person holding their legislative body in contempt.

Basically, this was a fine example of the Hannity Effect. Defined as someone arguing for an issue you agree with but doing it so badly you really wish they’d not said anything at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The Mighty Buzzard

“Basically, this was a fine example of the Hannity Effect. Defined as someone arguing for an issue you agree with but doing it so badly you really wish they’d not said anything at all.”

And Hannity tends to either ignore facts or create his own to suit his interpretation.

Modplan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The Mighty Buzzard

Nowhere did Glyn say it was illegal, only that De Gucht, quite accurately, stated that he would try again to get ACTA passed by resubmitting it even after it has been rejected.

How that was non-factual at all I don’t know, nor did it even have to heave to heavily rely on inferring anything – what was stated was perfectly clear.

PT says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The Mighty Buzzard

The conclusion that he holds the European Parliament in contempt is NOT ludicrous. The EU is not a democratic institution. The European Parliament is just a rubber stamp for the unelected, all powerful EU Commission of which de Gucht is a member. From Richard North’s blog:

“No matter what individual MEPs might think about an existing piece of EU law ? and even if all 732 members wanted it changed (which is highly unlikely) ? it cannot force a change. The unelected commission has the absolute right of initiative, and can ignore parliament completely.”

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The Mighty Buzzard

To be perfectly honest, de Gucht’s determination to get this treaty ratified after (a hopefully inevitable “no” vote) looks exactly like contempt for both the parliament and the people to me.

I know you will probably continue to disagree on this, but I think Glyn called it right on this occasion. De Gucht’s tone smacks of arrogance in that statement and if I’d been the one to write it up, I doubt I’d have done any different.

There’s no question that Glyn invented the notion of an arrogant commissioner whose paternalism overrides his common sense. De Gucht manages that all by himself in his upbraiding of the naughty children, I mean, MEPs in that statement.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: The Movie and Recording Industries Have Spoken!

That is basically what it amounts to. If they cannot get the law passed in the regular manner, they will just ignore the unfavorable rulings in courts and try to do it through the ‘back door’.

Which, by the way, should get these bastards arrested for. I seem to remember that trying to overturn a court ruling by Presidential fiat is a little thing called…. TREASON!

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

i dunno, feudalism seemed to work pretty well in most regards when not combined with serfdom. it certainly had it’s issues, and a lot of modern stuff wouldn’t work so well because it’s not really compatible with the decentralization feudalism requires, but that’s about it. now, there were a lot of things in place at the same Time as feudalism, which aren’t actually feudalism itself, that we can do with out. feudalism, as a government structure, is based on personal loyalty and responsibility, as well as traditional rights and duties, which can be codified into written and absolute law without issue, generally, save that they tend to be highly local. it also, by its very Nature, strips away the largest problem with the US system (and now the EU system) where the government is just so large and responsible for so much stuff that there is no way to hold it accountable to Anyone. feudalism is generally arranged so that, at each level, if things go truly off the rails, and all other methods of seeking justice have failed, no ruler is out of reach of the capacity of their subjects of armed revolt or the like, either in physical distance or resource base. (at least in part because those who would be revolting Are the majority of the resource base, which is NOT the case in what is essentially a centralized empire (for all their republican structures) like the EU or USA)

i dunno, i actually have less problems with feudalism than i do with many modern so called ‘democracies’ (most of which aren’t.)

if corporatism ends up being what it looks like it’d be, it’s pretty much using the wost abuses possible in feudalism (mostly as a result of other structures, but feudalism was not set up to counter them) as the default basis of it’s design, and labeled as Good things… (note that under feudalism they were the sort of thing that lead to assassinations and revolts…) the main difference is the use of lawyers and money rather than soldiers and steel… though under the Holy Roman Empire, the germanies were often like that too…

AB says:

Re: Re: Re:

I tend to agree, although this time around the armies will be replaced by lawyers, and the violence will be replaced with law suits (mostly). Also, our increased understanding of mass psychology and marketing techniques is reducing the negative feedback effect, thus potentially greatly extending the survival time for the fascist regime. On the other hand that is countered by a dramatic increase in public awareness which may break the whole cycle. I can dream, can’t I?

Anonymous Coward says:

This implicitly confirms that the referral was simply a way to buy time, rather than an honest question about ACTA’s legality.

Not unlike Masnick fellow goofy internet medal winner who authored most of the 75 amendments to SOPA for the sole purpose of “buying time”. Are you such a rub that you don’t understand how politics work?

This is an extraordinary admission. De Gucht says that even if the European Parliament unequivocally refuses to ratify ACTA next week, he will simply ignore that result, and re-submit it at a later date.

Extraordinary, are you kidding? There have been any number of worthwhile bills that have died and were subsequently resurrected. Why is that inherently evil? Or does that depend on whether it’s an anti-piracy measure?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I can’t tell if this is sarcasm, but if it is, well played sir!

I think the “worthwhile bills” part got me most thinking this is sarcasm. No one in their right minds would ever think ACTA, SOPA or the TCP is a rational response to anything.

If you can’t come to grips with the fact that the peoples interest in IP is more important than corporate interest, and that business models have moved beyond enforcing scarcity in a non-scarce word, then u fail.

There are plenty of smarter people ready to succeed where u fail.

abc gum says:

I have often wondered why we waste so much money on the facade referred to as democracy when there really is no such thing and never will be. Elections, voting, politics are apparently just a very expensive puppet show performed in order to calm the unwashed masses and soon stating such simple facts in public will become a punishable offense.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

oh, democracy works fine…

you just have to avoid falling into the insanity trap that is empire.

democracy ceases to work the moment it is large enough to require you to tack ‘representative’ onto it to continue functioning.

representative democracy, isn’t. it’s oligarchy with popularity contests instead of murders.

Anonymous Coward says:

IIRC, it was those aligned against the agreement that petitioned the court. With the terms of the agreement apparently now before that court, it does seem reasonable to secure a ruling of some type concerning the document’s provisions as submitted to the court.

On another matter, there is nothing in the document of which I am aware that prevents the EU from requesting amendments prior to it accession. To suggest this is a case of “you have to accept it exactly as it is” is not, I believe, accurate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I stand corrected. After reading the link I now understand that my recollection was incorrect.

As I now understand the matter, the EU Commission petition is currently pending before the court, with the linchpin question being if any of the provisions of the ACTA text are inconsistent with EU Directives.

With my understanding it can be argued that a vote should be held off until the court responds, since its decision may require changes to the text, which changes are not at all an unsurmountable hurdle.

saulgoode says:

Re: Re:

IIRC, it was those aligned against the agreement that petitioned the court.

It was Monsieur de Gucht who initially proposed seeking an opinion from the Court (though he cited the public protests across Europe in his reasoning).

With the terms of the agreement apparently now before that court, it does seem reasonable to secure a ruling of some type concerning the document’s provisions as submitted to the court.

It should be noted that Mr Moody’s article did not criticize this aspect (i.e., waiting for a ruling) of Monsieur de Gucht’s statements; it merely reported on it. I read nothing to suggest that he would not be in agreement with you about the reasonableness of waiting for a ruling.

hfbs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In fairness, they never say it will be changed for the better..

Voter: Hello, MP? I’d like the copyright law changed please
MP: Sure thing, taxpayer, one ‘death penalty for possible infringement’ coming up!
Voter: No, I meant changed so it’s less draconion
MP: Oh right, sorry – life sentence for possible infringement is certainly a good idea!
Voter: You misunderstand – less draconian and more suitable for the digital age
MP: Ohh, I get it now! Yeah, sorry. I’ll whip that through straight away!

Voter: What exactly did you ‘whip through’?
MP: Well, I listened to your suggestion of making it less absurd than death penalty for possible infringement (which if you ask me, is perfectly reasonable, or so I’m reliably told by the copyright industries) and how you really wanted it changed, so the proposed law is a fine for a billion pounds a year for your lifetime (and 70 years thereafter) if the MPAA/RIAA can prove you visited a torrent site. See, you don’t even have to go to jail, it’s a much nicer law, isn’t it?
Voter: ….

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Except that it’ll get amended to ‘can allege that you visited a torrent site’.

Just think of the numbers the MAFIAA will be quoting due to ‘piracy losses’: “Dear Representative, this 20-year-old went bankrupt and cost us our $140 billion, can we joinder him to these other 100 million cases?”

On the plus side, the MAFIAA will want to pay for everyone’s health insurance to keep them healthier and alive for longer! 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This is democracy at work

This has nothing to do with democracy. It is capitalistic greed. By forcing these restrictions onto the middle east, we are forcing a slower development onto them and thereby a larger piece of the financial pie for the legacy countries. Do not fool yourself and think you can change that by logical arguments. If you can prove that the calculations are wrong, you are on for quite an attack, but it is essentially the only argument the governments will listen to.

maclypse (profile) says:

Well, I’d like to say this was all very unexpected, but, you know… Oh dear. I’d also like to say “good luck getting re-elected, de Gucht” but we all know he will – because a big fat slice of the voters simply don’t know what’s going on. No one, not even the press, seems interested in actually inspecting and exposing the government.

Back in elementary school, 20 years ago, we were taught that the first job of the press was to inspect, question, and criticise the government. These days there’s virtually a media blackout. Of course, the press is owned by publishers, so there may be a slight conflict of interest, mm? How things have changed…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No. The problem is that politicians need spindoctors and their lobbyist-friends have good contacts too. One party in Denmark is known for trawling the newspapers for “good” journalists to strenghten their staff of spindoctors. When that rumour comes around, the journalists no longer fear loosing their job from obscure nitpicking of nothing against the political “opposition”, while they fear for their future if they should start digging in the trash of this partys politicians.
It did create a backlash when a newspaper uncovered that the spindoctors of said party had confidential materials and used them to sell one-sided stories to the press. It has prompted one of the biggest investigations in newer time…

Anonymous Coward says:

It is almost certain there will be attempts to ratify this treaty no matter what the parliament or the courts say.
The executive branch of the EU has far too much power over the legislative process and uses this to push unpopular laws through, discrediting the European project in the eyes of the citizenry.

The current problems around the euro could actually help turning this bill down as the parliament would not want to fuel the current anti-european sentiments among the people.

It is also possible certain member states will ratify it, ignoring the EU completely.
De Gucht has advocated this course of action several times when he was the belgian secretary of foreign affairs but this is now unlikely to happen as his party has lost heavily in the last three elections and his own moral standing in the country has greatly diminished due to allegations of tax evasion.

Anonymous Coward says:

i think we are now getting exactly what we deserve, regardless of where we are in the world. had a fight been put up in the first place, when Hollywood started all this copyright shit and file sharing nonsense, perhaps we would not be in this position now. every time the entertainment industries want something, they demand it. they never discuss it. after they achieve that part, they move on to the next, more strict part. it will not stop until they control the internet!! to my mind, the only hope left is for a worldwide joining of ISPs that ban the entertainment industries from the internet. if they dont, then they may just as well hand their businesses over because the costs involved will not be paid by the industries but the ISPs, then the consumer. the industries dont want their stuff available for download. no need to block or shut websites, just dont allow the music, movies and anything else to do with them from getting to the ‘net, problem solved!

Zakida Paul says:

Re: Re:

That would kill off the entertainment industry for good. I, for one, will NOT buy music, movies or TV shows if I cannot buy them online. I will NOT buy CDs or DVDs if I cannot try before I buy, be that Netflix, Last FM or any other such service.

I agree that it is going to take the ISPs finally standing up for themselves and their customers to get the cartels to take notice.

Zakida Paul says:

I must say that I used to be against our holding a referendum on whether or not we should stay in the EU. No, though, after seeing what they are doing to ‘solve’ the Eurozone crisis, this, and the hoops we have to jump through to control immigration; I say “Dave, give us a referendum now”. The sooner we get out of this bollocks the better.

Call me Al says:

Re: Re:

I’m still undecided on this. I suspect our government would have rubber stamped ACTA if there was no EU considerations. I simply don’t trust them to care about issues that I care about.

Having said that I loook at the EU and it is just an unbelievable mess with the commission doing whatever the hell they like and frequently going against what is in the interests of the actual people of Europe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The stiff upper-lip conservatives of Britain are by very far, the most zealous defenders of ACTA. ECR is second to none in that department. UK have had a lot of music industry to defend and ACTA might help it. That is enough for the ECR-group to try and discredit anyone suggesting there might be legitimate concerns about ACTA… They are 100% lapdogs of the commish on this issue.

If the man whose name starts with D, ever thought about plunging a vote of EU-membership on the public, he would have lost his position in a heartbeat…

Who Cares (profile) says:

Re: They've done it before

Not just Ireland. The best example here in the Netherlands. A referendum on the EU constitution. It was rejected despite the propaganda (and very clear bias towards yes on instruments that were supposed to help clarify what would be the best vote for people).
My comment at the time, due to previous experiences, was making a bet on how long it would take before it would be reintroduced as a government only vote. Nobody I knew would take the bet. Which I, most likely, would have won since it was only 2 weeks after the time I said they did exactly that.

Europe is not a democracy, it isn’t a republic it isn’t a federation. It is some form of an oligarchy with institutions like the parliament and the different committees as smokescreen/camouflage to hide this fact

NiC says:

I’ve been saying since February that Karel De Gucht is been bought by the entertainment industry (even sooner).

Checkout comments made by nicojuicy on http://tweakers.net/nieuws/80086/belgische-regering-gaat-impact-acta-bestuderen.html
and on http://tweakers.net/nieuws/80203/europese-hof-gaat-zich-buigen-over-acta.html

Don’t forget, Karel De Gucht is being investigated for fraud in Belgium : http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6dafb222-3b9f-11e1-a09a-00144feabdc0.html
I don’t understand why he can still stay as EU commissioner. Perhaps it’s a requirement, being able to be bought for a position in the EU.

Don’t forget, he even LIED to fellow EU politicians, because he wanted them to vote pro and not against ACTA.

Jeff Nolan (profile) says:

Why is this surprising?

The EU has a history of ignoring the democratic process in order to achieve the goals of the ruling class. At first they viewed direct democracy as unnecessary and ugly, an outdated convention that should be discarded in favor of technocrat intervention, now the bureaucrats in Brussels are admitting that they do not think much of politicians either…

eu commission skeptic says:

de gucht is either an idiot or he probably knows what he is doing is wrong and has personal interests at stake.

good luck convincing him …

the whole eu commission thing seems not very democratic to me. bodies with legislative power should be elected, not result of party politics. yuck, the whole thing reeks of institutional cronyism and lobbyism

ohir (profile) says:

EP has no real legislative power.

This simple fact is buried deep into European Union Treaty and this guy knows it fully. Its executive branch who makes legislative decissions in EU. The very decission to sign ACTA was made oficially by agriculture and fishery ministers of EUC. It was perfectly lawful, according to EU Treaty.

Even in popular brief descripions of EP powers (as in wikipedia) there is “an official statement” that EP is legislative branch followed by very long talkative presentation of “special cases” and “special procedures”. It all boils down to simple truth: in any important area EP can make its power by issuing non-binding opinions and talking to media. MEPs may at most decide what will be official european color of their next meeting. Not much more.

kaoxina says:

Recording Industries Have Spoken!

Not giving up after a failed attempt isn’t ignoring the law unless EU law has some bit about never being able to submit the same proposal twice. I have no idea whether or not this is the case but it would be amazingly stupid as it would apply to good proposals as well as bad.

http://WWW.nike airmaxonline shop.com

PG says:

EU commission

The EU commission should not be allowed to exist , it is an undemocratic . The commissioners are not elected and have no accountability to EU citizens , they should not be allowed to represent or take decisions for EU citizens .
And judging by the prsent state of the EU and its member countries they are doing a bad job , lack new ideas , and are overpayed .
We have yet to see austerity measures applied to the EU Commission and Parliament , and salaries and expenditure decreased , yet austerity is applied to most EU countries , this is unacceptable.

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