[Ip-health] With ACTA, manipulation returns to the European Parliament

Ante ante at ffii.org
Sat Sep 24 03:30:18 PDT 2011

with links

September 24, 2011
By Ante

A few years ago, an amendment making sure that parallel importation was not 
criminalised in the EU disappeared after it was adopted in the European 
Parliament. This summer, the Chairman of the International Trade committee 
(INTA), Mr Vital Moreira, rewrote a question the INTA committee asked the 
Parliament’s Legal Services regarding ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade 
Agreement). The INTA Chairman among others things left out a reference 
regarding parallel importation. Up until now, no member of the INTA committee 
questioned the behavior of the INTA Chairman. (See update below.)

While prominent legal experts conclude ACTA is not compatible with EU law, EU 
Treaties and fundamental rights, MEPs (Members of the Parliament) expect the 
Legal Services to conclude ACTA is fine. The stakes are high, if the Legal 
Services Opinion is substandard, civil society groups may file a 
maladministration complaint against the Legal Services. The credibility of the 
European Parliament is at stake, while the Union may have to expand its 
competence to solve the Euro crisis.

On 25 April 2007 the European Parliament rejected criminalisation of parallel 
importation when it voted on the Amended proposal for a Directive of the 
European Parliament and of the Council on criminal measures aimed at ensuring 
the enforcement of intellectual property rights (COD 2005/127).

Parallel importation is not counterfeiting, a genuine product is bought and 
sold. Parallel importation is also important for access to medicine, a matter 
of life and death.

In the consolidated text the amendment excluding parallel importation from 
criminalisation, was missing. The amendment was deliberately left out by the 
rapporteur, MEP Mr Zingaretti, who was responsible for the dossier. Only after 
Mr Zingaretti left Parliament, the President of the European Parliament 
decided to restore the amendment that excludes criminalisation of parallel 
importation. Prior to that, the Parliament had not answered any of the civil 
society calls to restore democracy.

This summer the coordinators of the INTA committee decided to ask the 
Parliament’s Legal Services questions on ACTA. In the questions they made a 
reference to the 25 April 2007 vote. The reference is important since in that 
vote the Parliament made limitations to criminalisation of infringements of so 
called intellectual property rights, limitations which are not found in ACTA. 
The answer to these questions could make clear that ACTA goes beyond the 2007 
Opinion of the European Parliament. The Chairman of the INTA committee left 
out the reference, no Member of the Parliament questioned his behavior.

After we informed Parliament in 2007 an amendment was missing, we met an 
hostile response. We now see Members again rather defending a colleague than 
defending democracy and the right to life.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) requested the 
minutes of the INTA coordinators meeting. The Register of the Parliament 
denies the existence of these minutes. We have multiple confirmations they do 
exist. (See update below.) The FFII also noticed the INTA committee took 
decisions on ACTA which were not recorded. They involve spending of tax money.

According to civil society groups, prominent European academics and an INTA 
commissioned study, ACTA is not compatible with current EU legislation.

According to civil society groups, prominent European academics and 
fundamental rights experts, ACTA violates fundamental rights. An other study 
concludes ACTA increases the risks and consequences of wrongful searches, 
seizures, lawsuits and other enforcement actions against legitimate suppliers 
of generic medicines. There are also problems with the EU Treaties.

Despite all this research, MEPs expect the Parliament’s Legal Service to 
conclude that there are no problems with ACTA. The Members expect the Legal 
Services to compromise its professionalism? As noted above, pressure on the 
Legal Services may destroy the Parliament’s credibility.

The INTA commissioned study concludes: "There does not therefore appear to be 
any immediate benefit from ACTA for EU citizens". Compromising the Parliament’s 
credibility over ACTA is irresponsible. It is not even penny wise, it 
certainly is Euro foolish.

Note that both the US and Mexico will not ratify ACTA. The US wants ACTA to be 
binding upon the EU, while it will not be binding upon the US – another 
manipulation going on.

Update: MEP Carl Schlyter (Greens / EFA) did question the INTA Chairman 
(yesterday). Incidentally, the letter also proofs the INTA coordinators’s 
meetings’s minutes do exist. We now even have a file number: INTA(2011)0621_2 . 
On multiple occasions the Register misinformed the FFII.

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