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European Parliament wants more transparency on ACTA

25 March, 2009
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This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Europäisches Parlament fordert mehr Transparenz bei ACTA


The European Parliament has included in the Draft Regulation regarding public access to the European Parliament, Council and Commission documents a reference asking for more transparency in the current negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

A recital in the text adopted by the European Parliament says: "In accordance with Article 255(1) of the EC Treaty, the Commission should immediately make all documents related to the ongoing international negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) publicly available."

The new regulation considers that the basic principle of the new policy on access to documents should be: "No legislative documents should be kept secret." MEPs adopted amendments to the draft proposal but postponed the vote on the legislative resolution, leaving the door open for further negotiations and a first-reading agreement.

The regulation foresees also the disclosure of the documents originating from a Member State and received by the EU institutions, after the consultation of the Member state, but without giving it a right of veto. Also Member States shall seek to ensure that an equivalent level of transparency is granted in relation to national measures implementing normative acts of the EU.

The MEPs concluded that transparency should be extended also to the international agreements where EU is participating. Special reference was made to the agreement with the USA on the PNR that "must not give a non-EU country or an international organisation the right to prevent the European Parliament from accessing confidential information."

Also, MEPs asked the Commission to make available all the documents related to ACTA that might create a new international benchmark on intellectual property right enforcement.

This decision came as a breath of fresh air for all international civil rights activists that have asked several times for the publication of the documents related to this international treaty. Especially after in US a Freedom of Information Act request by Jamie Love, director of the non-profit group Knowledge Ecology International, was denied by the chief FOIA officer in the White House's Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The subject of the request were 7 specific documents, referenced by their exact title and date. These documents are the proposals for ACTA text. The requested documents "are being widely circulated to corporate lobbyists in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. There is no reason for them to be secret from the American public."

However, the answer of the Obama administration was that the discussion draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and related materials are "classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958."

A document published by Michael Geist in Canada reveals that also the Canadian Government might be favourable to an early release of draft ACTA ".. the Canadian delegation plans to argue for a transparent approach. . . This approach would result in an earlier release of the text, which would serve to alleviate domestic concerns about the scope of the agreement and the perceived secrecy surrounding the process. The draft text could then serve as the basis for broad-based public consultations. "

Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (11.03.2009)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6...

Access to documents: The European Parliament demands more transparency (11.03.2009)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/019-51409-068...

Copyright treaty is classified for 'national security' (12.03.2009)
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10195547-38.html

Obama Administration Rules Texts of New IPR Agreement are State Secrets (12.03.2009)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-love/obama-administration-rule_b_1...

Canada Favours Early Release of ACTA Text (14.03.2009)
http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/3751/125/

EDRi-gram: EU pushes for an international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (7.11.2007)
http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number5.21/acta-eu

EDRi-gram: BitTorrent tracker sites threatened by draft ACTA agreement (4.06.2008)
http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number6.11/bittorent-acta-agreement

 

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