[A2k] Citizens have a clear interest in being informed about ACTA, EU Ombudsman concludes

Ante ante at ffii.org
Tue Jul 27 03:43:24 EDT 2010

[ ACTA / Economy / Transparency ]
Citizens have a clear interest in being informed about ACTA, EU Ombudsman 

Brussels, 27 July 2010 -- According to the EU Ombudsman, citizens have a clear 
interest in being informed about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement 
(ACTA). Despite this, he concludes for formal reasons that there was no 
maladministration by the Council of the European Union when it denied access 
to the ACTA documents. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure 
(FFII) had filed a complaint with the Ombudsman concerning the Council's 
refusal to grant access to ACTA documents.

The Ombudsman "agrees that the conclusion of the ACTA may indeed make it 
necessary for the EU to propose and enact legislation. In that case, the ACTA 
would constitute the sole or the major consideration underpinning that 
legislation, and citizens would have a clear interest in being informed about 
the ACTA."

While citizens have a clear interest in being informed about ACTA, they do not 
get access to the ACTA documents. The Ombudsman observes that, although ACTA 
"could have far-reaching legislative consequences for the EU, this does not 
mean that the procedure for concluding the ACTA is the same as a legislative 
procedure, and that the rules governing the latter (including those with 
regard to public access to documents as set out in the Turco case) apply by 
analogy to the former."

FFII analyst Ante Wessels comments: "This is a loophole, it is possible to 
force legislation upon democracies while the public can not scrutinize all 
documents. The EU legislation on access to documents needs to be repaired. In 
the meantime, parliaments should not accept the usage of this loophole. The 
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties stipulates that the history of a 
treaty plays a role in the interpretation of that treaty. Without full 
disclosure, parliaments will have to decide on a proposal with unknown 
aspects, a dark horse."

Background information

Behind closed doors, the European Union, United States, Japan and other trade 
partners are negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA will 
contain new international norms for the enforcement of copyrights, trade mark 
rights, patents and other exclusive rights. 

The FFII endorses the Washington Communique: International Experts Find that 
Pending Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Threatens Public Interests


Ombudsman decision:

FFII information page on ACTA:

FFII analysis:

Washington Communique:

Permanent link to this press release:


FFII Office Berlin 
 Malmöer  Str. 6 
 D-10439 Berlin 
 Fon:  +49-30-41722597 
 Fax Service: +49-721-509663769  
 Email:  office (at) ffii.org  
Ante Wessels 
 ante at ffii.org 
 +31 6 100 99 063 

About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European 
countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public 
benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 1000 
members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act 
as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights 
(intellectual property) in data processing.

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