Transfer Pricing Associates

Will the EU Parliament Ratify the ACTA?

post Saturday March 3, 2012



The debate on the controversial ACTA anti-counterfeit treaty has moved to the European Parliament, with the issue set to be debated in the European Court of Justice come June.  The EU court has been called upon to determine if existing EU laws on data protection and freedom of expression on the Internet would be compromised by the new treaty.  With its ruling, the EU will hopefully strike an appropriate balance between ensuring intellectual property rights and individual freedoms for internet users. 

The Anti-Counterfeit Treaty is a multinational treaty that aims to establish international standards for IPR (intellectual property rights) enforcement and to establish an international legal framework to target intellectual property infringement on the internet.

While countries can individually ratify the terms of the agreement, the EU Parliament’s backing is considered important for the aim of implementing consistent standards for copyright enforcement across the European Union and across all countries that ratify the treaty.

The agreement has so far been signed by 22 European countries (including the UK), the United States, Japan, and Canada.  Six of these 22 EU countries have recently halted their ratification procedures, however, to await the final opinion of the court and the European Parliament before resuming ratification. [Source: BBC UK]

EU head of trade, Karel De Gucht has said that the "[Acta] aims to raise global standards for intellectual property rights," adding that the treaty "will help protect jobs currently lost because counterfeited, pirated goods worth 200bn euros are currently floating around". [Source:BBC]

Widespread protests have been occurring in Europe with opponents of the treaty claiming that the legislation infringes on an internet user’s fundamental right to freedom of expression.  This is a controversial claim that some say the European Parliament must take into account when delivering its final opinion.

Some European countries are feeling the pressure of protesters more than others.  For example, when Poland declared its intention to sign the treaty last month, a number of Polish government websites were shut down by denial of service attacks.  Poland, along with the Czech Republic, Latvia, Germany, and Slovakia are some among the EU countries who have decided to wait until after the European Parliament has voted on the treaty’s ratification before making a decision within their own country’s government.

Given that Kader Arif, the former European rapporteur for ACTA, resigned from his position last month stating that he was vehemently opposed to the treaty and did not want to participate in the “masquerade” any longer, one thing is for sure – the ECJ is going to have one noisy summer.


Image from domdeen

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