EU Liberals To Vote Against ACTA; Conservatives Want To 'Fix' It

from the it's-a-majority,-but-not-as-we-know-it dept

We reported last week that the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament had decided to vote against the ratification of ACTA; now the Liberals and Democrats are following suit:

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament announced today that it cannot support ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).
The press release picks out the core problems:
"Civil society has been extremely vocal in recent months in raising their legitimate concerns on the ACTA agreement which we share. There are too many provisions lacking clarity and certainty as to the way they would be implemented in practice.

"Furthermore, ACTA wrongly bundles together too many different types of IPR enforcement under the same umbrella, treating physical goods and digital services in the same way. We believe they should be approached in separate sectoral agreements, and following a comprehensive and democratically debated mandate and impact assessment."
Although that means in theory that a majority of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) would vote against ACTA's ratification, things aren't that simple, as Rick Falkvinge explains:
this majority against ACTA is not like other majorities, which are predictable and stable. The European Parliament is fairly unique among parliaments, in that the MEPs are neither required (or indeed expected) to toe the party line, and while the party whip [line] exists, it is mostly of the fun kind. A recommendation, if you like. Deviations from the declared party line is not only common but expected in pretty much every vote. So even though the party groups have declared their party lines, this has no effective binding force on the people doing the actual button-pressing, and it’s the tally of them that counts in the end.
This makes the position of the EPP Group of European Conservatives, the largest block in the European Parliament, critically important. They have just come out with a document entitled: "EPP Group on ACTA: Fix It!", which is still peddling this kind of stuff:
Many of the provisions included in ACTA provide a useful basis to step up the fight against counterfeit products and ensure an adequate protection of consumers and companies alike. This is undisputed.
Hardly undisputed. As the Liberals pointed out in their press release, "the countries that are the main sources of counterfeit goods are not party to the agreement, so its value is questionable": without China as a signatory, ACTA will have no measurable effect on counterfeits in Europe, so the EPP statement is simply wrong.

On the other hand, the EPP does at least seem to understand that ACTA is problematic:

our intensive discussions with citizens and legal experts have shown that we need more legal clarity regarding certain provisions in the agreement in respect of its online chapters.

It must be ensured not only that ACTA fully respects the EU legal order, especially the Fundamental Rights Charter and the data protection acquis. It is as important that ACTA is not open to any interpretation that would infringe EU law.
It's good to see even the EPP accepting that ACTA is flawed in this way. What's less satisfactory is what it proposes to do about it:
We therefore call on the European Commission and member states to ensure legal clarity regarding the following provisions of ACTA, before the EPP Group can support the agreement
Those provisions concern ISPs being asked to police the Internet, and the vague concept of "commercial-scale" infringements. Both are indeed worrying, but so is the idea that the European Commission and member states can somehow "fix" them by providing "legal clarity". The point is, ACTA has been signed; it cannot be changed. Whatever the European Commission and members states say, ACTA will remained flawed and therefore dangerous.

It's pretty clear what's going on here. The EPP is desperately trying to find a way that will allow it to claim that ACTA has been fixed -- as their press release proclaims -- and that MEPs should just forget about all the fuss and meekly agree to its ratification. But ACTA cannot be fixed, since it cannot be amended in any way. So the EPP has come up with this trick of "calling on" the European Commission to promise that everything will be OK when it comes to implementation through EU and national laws.

But no business would sign a flawed contract on the basis of vague promises that its worst clauses won't be implemented: it would tear it up and re-negotiate. So the idea that politicians should adopt this irresponsible approach for a treaty that will impact 500 million people and shape the laws of a continent for many years to come, rather than draw up a new one that does the job properly, is just absurd.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 27th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    We get called freetards

    "Furthermore, ACTA wrongly bundles together too many different types of IPR enforcement under the same umbrella, treating physical goods and digital services in the same way. We believe they should be approached in separate sectoral agreements, and following a comprehensive and democratically debated mandate and impact assessment."

    I guess The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament just want things for free too huh?


    boB...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 12:22pm

    flogging a dead horse still, tossers!

    could someone tell me please how many countries are still of the opinion that ACTA is any good?

    could someone tell me please how many of the countries that are applicable to the question above, are run by Conservative governments?

    it is well known that Conservative governments are only interested in the businesses of a country, they are not, never have been and never will be interested in the citizens of a country except in finding ways to remove as much as possible from those citizens!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

      Re:

      In Europe, France has a love-affair with anything that rimes on HADOPI because even the conservatives from other countries in the parliament are concerned about its legality and the 3-strike human rights catastrophy.

      Apart from that, if USA approves ACTA and it would seem like they are getting away with it, at least 5 of the 7 other countries have to sign and I am pretty sure at least 4 does without even thinking about it (Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore). Japan and South Korea are very likely to ratify too without discussion...

      ACTA will not die just because Europe says no. It will merely confer a delay in signing:
      In 5 years after the deal has been ratified by the original group, there will be a new assessment of ACTA and a new vote will happen when it has been certified that ACTA is all kinds of shiny and the concerns has been, well, made into a mountain under the carpet.

      I am telling you: Unless USA kills ACTA it is still plenty alive.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    I think the new fight for the younger generation is the fight against monopolies.

    We don't need to fight counterfeits we need more of them.

    Counterfeit once was something about bad people trying to take advantage of others, today counterfeit means anything that threatens a business and that is not right.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    So, "pirate Mike" is an expert on Europe now as well? He's probably never even been to Switzerland...

     

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    identicon
    Josh Taylor, Apr 28th, 2012 @ 8:42am

    It doesn't matter. Even if ACTA has been rejected by the EU parliament, their ambassadors signed it, it's still law. Just wait until the ambassadors from the EU member states join and sign TPP.

     

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


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