MEPs yesterday passed a motion strongly criticising the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and urging the European Commission to ensure it respects fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and privacy.
This is an outstanding success for MEPs and a great victory for European citizens and ORG supporters who joined the lobbying. The ACTA process badly needs strong opposition because of these threats to fundamental rights of citizens.
Only about a third of British MEPs signed Written Declaration 12/2010 that also called for an immediate publication of all documents related to the negotiating process.
In a debate in Parliament today MEPs hailed the success of the Declaration and repeatedly criticised the lack of transparency in the ACTA process and demanded to see the final text of the agreement before it is signed.
ACTA, despite its name, is a copyright enforcement treaty that has been negotiated over the last two years largely in secret. The US and the EU are the main drivers in these negotiations between countries, rather than international organisations such as WIPO or the WTO who normally deal with treaties of this scale.
Analysing ACTA has not been easy since there has only been one public draft after two years negotiating largely in secret. Civil society has been excluded of the process that has been negotiated between Governments. Elected representatives have also largely been denied access.
It is therefore vital that MEPs voice their concerns on behalf of European citizens and they need our support in this. After Governments agree on a deal and sign ACTA, it needs to be ratified. At this stage MEPs will get a vote and we have to make sure that fundamental rights of citizens will be protected.
If confirmed this would be another important victory for campaigners and shows that we can change things for the better if we keep up the pressure on Governments.
There are still worrying parts in ACTA though. We have to press for an assurance that everyone will be able to express their opinion online and websites won't be taken down after a claim of copyright infringement.
Finally, the free transit of generic medicines through EU countries has to be possible to ensure life saving drugs for the poor.
ACTA is not a done deal yet. Congratulations again to everyone who took part in the campaign so far. That is the support we need to achieve these important changes to ACTA. We alongside groups like the amazing La Quadrature du Net will with your help keep up the pressure.