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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Writing on the wall for ACTA as MEPs vote to reject controversial treaty

The European Parliament Trade Committee has today voted to reject ACTA – the controversial international trade agreement created to combat the proliferation of counterfeiting and privacy [1].

Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, has welcomed the outcome of the vote, which recommends that Members of the European Parliament reject ACTA when it comes before plenary.

Jean and her Green/EFA colleagues in the European Parliament have long argued against ACTA, both for its content and the process through which it has been drawn up.  ACTA is not just an agreement on tariffs, but a secretly negotiated trade agreement which broadens the scope of criminal sanctions for internet distribution and information technology.  Under ACTA, people could be prosecuted for simply sharing a link to a newspaper article or sharing a video on YouTube.  ACTA also fuels the confusion between counterfeiting and patent infringement, with a clear risk of decreasing access to generic drugs.

Speaking after the vote, Jean said: “The writing is now on the wall for ACTA after today’s vote. With the lead Trade Committee having voted to recommend the EP withhold its consent for this controversial agreement, it is now up to the plenary session to finish off ACTA.  We hope the plenary vote will take place before the summer, so we can finally draw a line under the ACTA saga and end the ratification process.

“In addition to concerns about data protection and internet freedom, there are concerns about the potentially far-reaching implications of ACTA on fundamental rights, freedom of establishment and access to vital medicines. At EU-level, ACTA would block the much-needed reform of EU copyright law and instead lead to a heavy-handed and repressive enforcement of copyright with no regard to either the basic rights of citizens or the needs of European digital entrepreneurs.

“There can be no sweeping, one-size-fits-all approach to intellectual property enforcement.  Instead, there is a need to assess the different challenges facing different economic sectors and different aspects of intellectual property and develop individual solutions for these sectors.”

Notes to Editor

1. Following this vote in the Trade Committee (19 votes in favour of rejection, 12 against), the European Parliament will now vote in its plenary session on a report recommending that the EU withhold its consent, which would – in effect – prevent ACTA from being ratified.