22nd February 2012 19:30
ACTA Referred to the ECJ - a delaying tactic to side-step public anger?
Phil Hunt – Pirate Party UK Foreign Policy Spokesperson:
Today the EU Commission referred the controversial IP enforcement treaty ACTA to the European Court of Justice, asking for a ruling as to whether it breaches the "fundamental rights" of the EU. The decision was made following large-scale protests against ACTA in all member states. Some see this as a cynical delaying tactic.
Pirate Party MEP and Rapporteur for the European Parliament industrial committee opinion on ACTA, Amelia Andersdotter said:
"A judicial trial is of course necessary. But the decision to refer at this stage is extremely unusual, both in terms of its timing and content. A court judgement is limited to ruling on the primary laws of the union and the underlying treaties. ACTA is about much more than this.
ACTA has raised many questions from citizens, from industries and from parliamentarians, many of whom were just beginning to work on analysing and revising the agreement. Issues brought up include the future trade relations of the EU with third parties, non-signatories, and our own industries' abilities to develop dynamically on the internet. These questions can only be answered by political institutions. To push the agreement onto the court means that this process of parliamentary scrutiny will be delayed.
Opinions had begun turning strongly against the agreement, both inside and outside the Parliament. Now the Commission is most likely hoping that the resistance will die down, while the agreement gathers dust in Luxembourg, so that it can later be approved with no major opposition.
The most important thing now is exactly which questions the Commission will ask the court -- will they ask relevant questions, on how the agreement will affect the interpretation of present and future laws of the EU? Or is this just a way for the Commission to avoid defeat, after a political debate about the future of information society - which has involved citizens from all over Europe and transcended all borders?"
The ACTA process is one that has been conducted under an unprecedented level of secrecy with the apparent desire to keep it away from public scrutiny. Now that the public debate has caught up with the issues, we've seen massive amounts of objections from civil society and huge protests in the UK and abroad. This referral seems to be a further attempt by those pushing for ACTA to just kick the can down the road and hide the agreement out of public light again in the hope that everyone forgets about it. I am concerned that this treaty, which will do great harm to innovation and development and is a serious threat to civil liberties across the world, is being hidden away again in the hope that it can be slipped past the citizens of the EU when no one is looking.
I would like to join Anna Troberg, party leader of the Swedish Pirate party, in demanding proof that this not "yet another betrayal from the powers that be against the young, politically-involved internet generation."
Foreign Policy Spokesperson
Pirate Party UK
+44 (0) 161 987 7880