EC Refers ACTA to European Court Of Justice

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ECJ to see if controversial agreement is compatible with European treaties

The European Commission (EC) has asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to ensure that the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) complies with European law.

Europe’s highest court will be asked to see if ACTA is compatible with EU treaties and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Wide-ranging concerns

“The Court’s opinion is vital to respond to the wide-ranging concerns voiced by people across Europe on whether ACTA harms our fundamental rights in any way,” said EU Spokesman Jon Clancy in a statement.

The European Union elected not to send ACTA to the ECJ in March, which led many to speculate that it was going to reject the agreement, which is intended to set global rules to counter copyrighted materials, including illegal file sharing.

ACTA was the product of four years of negotiations between the EU’s 27 member states and 10 other countries, the US, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Morocco, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland. However, despite MEPs voting in favour of the resolution in November 2010, all 27 governments must ratify the agreement before it can come into effect.

The agreement has been fiercely unpopular, triggering a number of protests and petitions across Europe, including the UK. The treaty has been criticised for going too far in its provisions to counter intellectual property theft and the secretive way in which it was written. This has led to many governments suspending their ratification processes, preferring to wait until the European Union has ruled on its legality.

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