EU parliament throws out anti-piracy pact
The European Parliament rejected by a wide majority the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an international copyright deal which, critics say, threatened internet freedom.
Only 39 lawmakers voted in favour of ACTA on Wednesday; 478 rejected it, while 165 abstained, killing off the EU ratification process. This might give an incentive to other signatories to also walk out, forcing the renegotiation or the outright abandonment of the agreement.
The conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in the EU assembly, unsuccessfully tried to postpone the vote until the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivers a verdict on whether ACTA really poses a risk to civil liberties.
“No emergency surgery, no transplant, no long period of recuperation is going to save ACTA: it is time to give it its last rites, it is time to allow its friends to mourn and for the rest of us to get on with our lives,” British socialist David Martin, who drafted parliament’s opinion on ACTA, said before the vote.
“Rejecting the ACTA flat out, without trying to address concrete concerns, after years of negotiating, does nothing to handle the serious threats to European jobs and enterprises ACTA intended to solve,” EPP member Christofer Fjellner complained afterwards.
By contrast, lawmakers from the Green group, which campaigned vigorously against the deal, waved banners saying “Hello Democracy, Goodbye ACTA.”
The agreement had been signed by Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States, as well as by the EU and its member states. It establishes global standards against counterfeit goods, non-licensed generic medicines and online piracy.
Pictured: The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has yet to be ratified and has stirred controversy across the globe [Reuters]