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We call upon the Parliaments of Europe to set parliamentary scrutiny reservations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). It may be the only way to stop silent adoption in the Council.
Behind closed doors, the EU, US, Japan and other countries are negotiating ACTA. No drafts are published. Information surrounding the negotiations shows a too broad definition of piracy is used. As a result, bona fide entrepreneurs and civilians are criminalised, and excessive civil and administrative measures can be invoked against them. This will have far reaching consequences on legal certainty, innovation, competitiveness, freedom of speech and privacy. Trolls will get free reign and companies are chased off the market. ACTA may limit access to medicines, software and the Internet.
It is essential the public and parliaments can scrutinize ACTA. It is unclear whether they will be able to do that. It is unclear whether the final draft will be published prior to Political Agreement in the EU Council. ACTA may pass silently during Parliamentary recess.
In the EU decisions are normally taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen. Preparatory legal texts are published. If full disclosure is not possible, parts are published. Translations are made prior to adoption in the Council. With ACTA, parliaments and public get nothing. In a Resolution, the European Parliament called for disclosure of ACTA preparatory drafts, including progress reports, and of the Commission's negotiating mandate. The Council did not release documents.
In the case of trade agreements, both the EU Member States and the European Parliament have vetoes on aspects of the trade agreement. ACTA's secrecy makes it impossible to assess whether the vetoes apply and should be used.
In order to safeguard transparency and parliamentary legislative power, we call upon the parliaments of Europe, both the national as the European Parliament, to set parliamentary scrutiny reservations.
We believe that, if ACTA indeed combines a broad definition of piracy with very harsh measures, vetoes should be exercised. The following vetoes apply to ACTA:
+ In so far as ACTA will relate to trade in cultural, audiovisual and educational services, the Member States have a veto.
+ In so far as ACTA will relate to non commercial acts, the Member States have a veto.
+ The Member States have a veto on criminal measures in ACTA.
+ The European Parliament has vetoes if ACTA entails amending an act adopted under the procedure referred to in Article 251 or if a specific institutional framework is established by instituting cooperation procedures.