Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
Commission refers ACTA to court
By Manon Malhère | Wednesday 22 February 2012
The European Commission intends to refer a question to the EU Court of Justice on the conformity of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) with EU law, Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said, on 22 February. This agreement in principle was reached after the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners, which took place in the morning. From a legal point of view, under Article 218, Paragraph 11 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), the Commission can ask the court for an opinion.
“We are planning to ask Europe’s highest court to assess whether ACTA is incompatible – in any way – with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression and information or data protection and intellectual property rights,” the commissioner told the press. He hopes that the court will give a positive opinion.
The ACTA was signed by the EU and its 22 member states on 26 January. It aims to create a preliminary global framework to boost the fight against intellectual property law infringements and counterfeiting of numerous products. The EU, the US, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Mexico and Morocco are taking part but China and India are not. To enter into force, the ACTA must be approved by national parliaments, as well as the European Parliament. But since it was signed, the text is encountering more and more resistance. Demonstrators across Europe marched to protest against this agreement, which they consider to be a grave infringement of individual freedoms. Beyond that, the ACTA also been the cause of much debate in the Parliament and some member states have decided to freeze the ratification process. On 17 February, the Polish prime minister called on the leaders of the European People’s Party (EPP) to reject the ACTA. “I believe the European Commission has a responsibility to provide our parliamentary representatives and the public at large with the most detailed and accurate information available,” said De Gucht, stressing that “ACTA will change nothing about how we use the internet and social websites today – since it does not introduce any new rules”.
The MEP in charge of the dossier, Martin David (S&D, UK), welcomed the referral, saying: “We will wait for the ECJ ruling before we draw conclusions”. The first discussion on the text at the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) will take place on 29 February, followed by a public hearing, on 1 March.
EP rapporteur Martin David (S&D, UK) welcomed the referral, saying: “We will wait for the ECJ ruling before we draw conclusions”