Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
De Gucht finds supervisor’s opinion “unfounded”
By Manon Malhère | Wednesday 30 May 2012
The conclusions of the opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are “unfounded,” states Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht in a letter sent to the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), on 29 May. This is his response to a 4 May letter from the committee asking him to explain the Commission’s handling of this very controversial issue (see
In a critical opinion, published on 24 April, the EDPS states that measures for the enforcement of intellectual property rights on the internet remain imprecise and can run counter to the rights to privacy and data protection (4412).
Asked to react, De Gucht states that the opinion fails to take account of the “explicit and detailed safeguards” foreseen in ACTA, which ensure a balance between intellectual property and other fundamental rights, such as “privacy, data protection, fair process or proportionality”. The commissioner is especially critical of the fact that “the opinion systematically assumes that where the provisions of ACTA leave room for flexibility in their implementation, they will be implemented in the EU” in ways that are illegal and contrary to fundamental rights. “This assumption is rejected by general principles of law and by the letter of ACTA itself,” he writes.
Regarding the Commission’s handling of the matter, De Gucht was asked to explain why the EP had not been formally asked about a joint action with the other institutions in connection with referral to the EU Court of Justice. On 4 April, the Commission decided to seek the court’s opinion on ACTA’s conformity with fundamental rights. The commissioner defends his action, stating that “each time, the Commission proposed that the Parliament join the Commission’s court referral”. He adds that the Committee on International Trade (INTA), the lead committee on this issue, voted against the idea of an EP referral, on 27 March.
The JURI committee is due to adopt its opinion on ACTA on 31 May. The INTA committee is set to vote in June and the plenary will probably vote (approval or rejection of the agreement) at the July session.
ACTA is an international treaty signed on 26 January by the EU and 22 member states. It is meant to create an initial global framework to combat counterfeiting and infringements of intellectual property rights. Its opponents argue that the agreement restricts freedom of expression on the internet.
De Gucht states that the EDPS’ opinion fails to take account of the “explicit and detailed safeguards” foreseen in ACTA