by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
acta, eu, secrecy, transparency

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...

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  1. identicon
    Mr. Oizo, 3 Jun 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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