4 Jul 2012

Green MEPs welcome death of ACTA following decisive European Parliament vote



The European Parliament has today sounded the death knell for ACTA - the
controversial international trade agreement which threatens to impinge the
freedom of electronic communication and innovation worldwide – by voting
definitively to reject the Treaty.



The UK’s Green MEPs, Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor, have welcomed the
outcome of this decisive vote in Strasbourg, which means that the Treaty
will be blocked from becoming law in its current form in the EU.



Jean and Keith, alongside their Greens/EFA colleagues in the European
Parliament, have been at the forefront of the campaign against ACTA, both
for its content and in the way in which it has been drawn up. More than
just a simple trade agreement to combat the proliferation of counterfeiting
and privacy, ACTA broadens the scope of criminal sanctions for internet
distribution and information technology, meaning people could be prosecuted
for merely sharing a link to a newspaper article or for sharing a video on
YouTube.



There are also concerns that ACTA could be used by pharmaceutical companies
to effectively restrict access to generic medicines in developing
countries. The World Health Organisation estimates that some 1.3 billion
of the world’s poorest do not have access to essential, life saving
medicines – a situation which could be exacerbated by multinationals
seeking to stifle the trade in legitimate generic medicines.



Having been rejected by five Parliamentary committees, as well as by MEPs
from across the political spectrum, ACTA will continue to be considered by
the European Court of Justice as to its compatibility with EU law. EU
Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, has suggested that the deal could be
returned to the Parliament with amendments once the ECJ has given its
ruling, which could grant a new lease of life to this heavy-handed and
repressive treaty.



Speaking after the vote, Jean, Green MEP for London and a member of the
European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee, said: “I am delighted by
the outcome of today’s vote, which hopefully will draw a line under the
ACTA saga once and for all. It is right to say that EU copyright law does
need to be urgently reformed to take account of the changed environment of
the information society, but this requires a broad and inclusive
consultation, rather than a shadowy, secretive negotiation process which
seeks to suppress the civil liberties and fundamental rights of EU
citizens. 

“The European Parliament has today proven itself to be on the side of the
hundreds of thousands of people around the world concerned about the
dangerous implications of ACTA with regards to data protection and internet
freedom – indeed, this vote is nothing less than a milestone for European
democracy. I hope that the lessons learnt during this sorry chapter will
act as a guiding hand to future political debate on intellectual property
protecting in the digital age.”



Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England said: "Many people have
voiced their concerns to me and in the end I'm delighted that Parliament
has listened to the people and voted to reject this heavy handed piece of
legislation. My only regret is that not all MEPs supported this rejection
of ACTA. While intellectual property must of course be protected, it's also
fundamentally important that in this day and age people are able to freely
share information for non-commercial purposes on the internet
without the fear of being criminalised."

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