[Ip-health] With ACTA, manipulation returns to the European Parliament
ante at ffii.org
Sat Sep 24 03:30:18 PDT 2011
September 24, 2011
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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