European Parliament Votes Down ACTA
Out of the 754 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), 478 of them voted against the the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (2011/0167(NLE)), while 39 voted in favour, and 165 MEPs abstended. What’s interesting to note is that 43 MEPs where absent, and that 27 MEPs decided not to vote. More background on the vote can be found here, and here (p. 19).
Who are the 39 MEPs who voted in favour of the Agreement?
- ALDE (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)
- Bill Newton Dunn (UK); and,
- Hannu Takkula (FI).
- EFD (Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group)
- Magdi Cristiano Allam (IT);
- Fiorello Provera (IT); and,
- Niki Tzavela (GR).
- EPP (Group of the European People’s Party)
- Jean-Pierre Audy (FR);
- Bendt Bendtsen (DK);
- Nora Berra (FR);
- Alain Cadec (FR);
- Carlo Casini (IT);
- Michel Dantin (FR);
- Rachida Dati (FR);
- Albert Deß (DE);
- Karl-Heinz Florenz (DE);
- Michael Gahler (DE);
- Marielle Gallo (FR);
- Jean-Paul Gauzès (FR);
- Françoise Grossetête (FR);
- Brice Hortefeux (FR);
- Philippe Juvin (FR);
- Alain Lamassoure (FR);
- Werner Langen (DE);
- Agnès Le Brun (FR);
- Constance Le Grip (FR);
- Klaus-Heiner Lehne (DE);
- Véronique Mathieu (FR);
- Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (FR);
- Tiziano Motti (IT);
- Maurice Ponga (FR);
- Bernd Posselt (DE);
- Franck Proust (FR);
- Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (DE);
- Dominique Riquet (FR);
- Crescenzio Rivellini (IT);
- Jean Roatta (FR);
- Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (FR);
- Dominique Vlasto (FR); and,
- Manfred Weber (DE).
- S&D (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats)
- Vital Moreira (PT).
(21 French, 8 German, 5 Italian, and 1 UK, Danish, Portuguese, Finish, and Greek MEP)
Just ahead of the vote Swedish EPP MEP Christofer Fjellner requested on behalf of the EPP group the referral of the International Trade (INTA) Committee’s recommendation to decline consent to the Agreement back to the Committee under Rule 175(2).
This request was supported by German EPP MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne, while UK S&D MEP and Rapporteur David Martin opposed it. The request ended up being rejected by the Parliament (255 for, 420 against, and 9 abstentions).
Reactions to the Parliament’s Rejection
European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht reacted that the “rejection does not change the fact that the European Commission has committed itself to seeking answers to the questions raised by the European public”. The Commissioner remains thus committed to seek a legal opinion from the the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
MEP Fjellner considered that “today’s decision to vote down ACTA has serious consequences and is irresponsible as the majority refused to wait for the legal assessment by the ECJ”.
Angela Mills Wade, European Publishers Council (EPC) Executive Director, deems that the European Parliament has “given in to pressure from anti-copyright groups despite calls from thousands of companies and workers in manufacturing and creative sectors who have called for ACTA to be signed in order that their rights as creators be protected”.
“ACTA is now dead in the EU thanks to the support of the European Parliament for my Report. I am very pleased that the Parliament has followed my recommendation and rejected ACTA. The Treaty was too vague and was open to misinterpretation. I will always support civil liberties over intellectual property rights protection.” - MEP David Martin
Joe McNamee, EU advocacy coordinator for the European Digital Rights initiative (EDRi), believes that this “victory is an important milestone for Internet freedoms in Europe and cross the globe”.
Ante Wessels, from the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), considers this “is a major victory for civil society, Internet freedom, access to medicine and knowledge, and innovative companies”.
More reactions can be found on the Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) blog.
Plenary Debate on ACTA
In the run up to the vote, a lively debate took place on Tuesday the 3rd of July, wherein a lot of members used their ‘blue-card’ option (Rule 149(8)) to question each other’s viewpoints.
On Monday the 2nd of July Swedish EPP MEP Christofer Fjellner remarked that “important that we await the ruling of the court”, but the debate uncovered that this view was not shared by everyone within the EPP group.
For example, Dutch EPP MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten pointed out that her fraction (CDA) would vote against the Agreement, and also Polish EPP MEP Pawel Zalewski stated that he and his Polish colleagues would vote against the Agreement. Austrian EPP MEP Paul Rübig from his side expressed a lot of criticism against the Agreement.
During the debate UK ECR MEP Syed Kamall reiterated his earlier position to suspend the vote on the Agreement until an opinion has been issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
His UK ECR colleague David Campbell Bannerman did not seem to share the same view, as he pointed out the he “support[s] the aim but [does] not support the detail of ACTA”.
Portugese S&D MEP and INTA Committee chair Vital Moreira, reiterated his earlier support for the Agreement.