European Trade Committee Says No To ACTA

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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INTA recommends that MEPs reject controversial treaty in next month’s vote

MEPs on the European Parliament’s International Trade committee (INTA) have voted to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement by 19 votes to 12 with no abstentions.

The vote could be a fatal blow for the treaty, as the committee formally recommends to MEPs how to vote in the European Parliament, which is set to make a final decision on ACTA next month.

End of ACTA?

The results are not entirely unexpected, given it had been predicted that ACTA could be “buried by the summer” after the trade committee had decided not to refer it to the European Court of Justice, in order to ensure that it complied with European law.

Despite eventually being referred to the court anyway, the committee has now said this will not happen. European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes had also admitted that the treaty was unlikely to pass through the European Parliament.

“I welcome the result of today’s vote,” said David Martin, a UK MEP on the committee. “I am pleased that the committee has acknowledged the problems I have identified in my report and has followed my recommendation to reject ACTA.”

Martin had predicted that the vote would go two to one against ACTA, arguing it had failed when it was decided to combine counterfeit goods with online piracy.

The news has been welcomed by opponents of the treaty.

Continuing Campaign

“MEPs have listened to the many, many thousands of people across Europe who have consistently demanded that this flawed treaty is kicked out,” said Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group. “This is the fifth consecutive committee to say ACTA should be rejected. It now falls to the vote of the whole European Parliament in early July to slam the door on ACTA once and for all, and bring this sorry mess to an end.”

“Our objections to ACTA have been consistent. This treaty was discussed in secret and it diminishes privacy in order to protect outdated business models,” commented Ed Geraghty, foreign policy spokesman for Pirate Party UK. “It harms developing countries and unfairly favours the big players. It’s neither in our interests nor your interests; it’s not for your benefit, it’s not good for humanity.”

“Our opponents have attempted to portray us all as extreme or ill-informed,” he continued. “But the response of the EU committees show that we have been right all along. Today’s votes by the International Trade committee support that. We will continue to fight against ACTA and any similar legislation, whether at the national or international level.”

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