ACTA hasn't been making the news much recently - it's certainly nothing like the SOPA frenzy - but it anything it's been even more dubious. Well, the MEPs finally got their rear ends together and decided that, what the heck, they don't like it either. Fresh from the press release:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), was rejected by the European Parliament on Wednesday, and hence cannot become law in the EU. This was the first time that Parliament exercised its Lisbon Treaty power to reject an international trade agreement. 478 MEPs voted against ACTA, 39 in favour, and 165 abstained.
"I am very pleased that Parliament has followed my recommendation to reject ACTA" said rapporteur David Martin (S&D, UK), after the vote, reiterating his concerns that the treaty is too vague, open to misinterpretation and could therefore jeopardise citizens' liberties. However, he also stressed the need to find alternative ways to protect intellectual property in the EU, as the "raw material of the EU economy".
The EPP's key ACTA advocate, Christofer Fjellner (EPP, SE), asked before the vote that Parliament should delay its final vote until the European Court of Justice has ruled on whether ACTA is compatible with the EU treaties. However, when a majority of MEPs rejected this request, a substantial minority responded by abstaining in the vote on Parliament's consent.
While debating whether to give its consent to ACTA, Parliament experienced unprecedented direct lobbying by thousands of EU citizens who called on it to reject ACTA, in street demonstrations, e-mails to MEPs and calls to their offices. Parliament also received a petition, signed by 2.8 million citizens worldwide, urging it to reject the agreement.
ACTA was negotiated by the EU and its member states, the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland to improve the enforcement of anti-counterfeiting law internationally. Wednesday's vote means that neither the EU nor its individual member states can join the agreement.
That is hardly a surprise, since so far two rapporteurs who were tasked with reviewing the treaty and five committees all spoke against it, but it's news nonetheless. Now, if I remember my EU procedure classes correctly, that means the entire thing is out - it must be agreed on by both Parliament and Council (which is where representatives of the members' elected governments meet) to be valid; if the Parliament rejects it it can't proceed. I wonder if anyone remembers how our beloved PM was so much in favour of that deal he supposedly pushed for its signing before even reading what was on it...
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