[A2k] Dutch parliament refuses ACTA secrecy
ante at ffii.org
Wed Nov 23 12:32:10 PST 2011
Dutch parliament refuses ACTA secrecy
November 23, 2011
On the same day that the European Parliament had its first secret meeting on
ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), the Dutch parliament decided it
will not take ACTA into consideration unless all ACTA negotiation texts are
A few weeks ago, the Dutch House of Representatives’ committee of Economic
Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation requested the ACTA negotiation texts (the
earlier versions of ACTA). The minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and
Innovation, Maxime Verhagen, sent the texts to parliament, adding a non
disclosure obligation. In debates, Members of Parliament may not refer to the
documents, nor quote from them.
Sunday, Bits of Freedom sent a letter to the committee, asking the committee
not to accept the secrecy.
Committee member Kees Verhoeven (D66) proposed a message from the committee to
the minister that no substantive treatment of any ACTA document can be made
without publication of all relevant documents and above all that the committee
can discus all documents in public. According to experts, the treaty has major
implications for Dutch legislation (eg on copyright and Internet freedoms) and
the House can’t at the moment consult experts nor can it inform the public
about ACTA’s consequences, since ACTA is partly confidential. For this reason,
the committee also requests the minister not to take irreversible steps,
neither in Europe and nor in the Netherlands, in terms of ACTA. And towards
the commission itself, the proposal to temporarily withdraw all ACTA related
documents from the agenda until the minister discloses all documents.
Bits of Freedom reports a majority in the Dutch House of Representatives (D66,
PVV, GroenLinks, SP and PvdA) adopted the proposal.
Meanwhile in Brussels, the European Parliament International Trade committee
(INTA) held a highly controversial in-camera meeting to learn what the legal
service of the European Parliament thinks of ACTA.
On 9 November, the FFII had send an open letter to the Chairman of the
Committee on International Trade (INTA), in which the FFII objected to the
planned in-camera meeting on the 23th. On 12 November the INTA chairman
defended the secrecy in a letter to the FFII.
7 civil society groups asked for European Parliament transparency on ACTA on
the 17th. On Friday the 18th, the Parliament refused to disclose the legal
service’s opinion on ACTA, “disclosure would undermine the protection of the
public interest as regards international relations”.
On Sunday, the FFII filed a confirmatory application for legal service’s opinion
on ACTA. According to the FFII, the argument that disclosure of the opinion
would undermine international relations is totally overstretched. The
Parliament’s second reason violates the European Court of Justice case law
(Turco case), and the third argument lacks substance.
On Monday 21th, sources in Parliament reported the meeting was postponed. But
on Wednesday the 23th, the meeting was on.
Henrik Alexandersson, assistant to Christian Engstrom, reports on his blog:
- Controversial INTA meeting on ACTA held in camera today 23 November despite
protests from Civil Society.
- Previous decision to postpone the meeting annulled yesterday night by INTA
- Vote on holding the meeting in public was denied.
After 4 European Parliament resolutions asking for ACTA transparency, the
Parliament now took the decision to keep the legal service’s opinion
confidential. And to meet in-camera.
This whole show will be repeated soon: the Legal Affairs Committee asked for a
legal service’s opinion as well.
A partly secret ratification process… How deep do you want to sink?
The European Parliament should take a good look at the Dutch Parliament’s
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