ACTA: EPP Group on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – fix it!

Christofer Fjellner MEP and Daniel Caspary MEP

In view of the presentation of the European Parliament’s draft Report on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), scheduled for this afternoon, the EPP Group’s Shadow Rapporteur, Christofer Fjellner MEP, and the EPP Group Coordinator in the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, Daniel Caspary MEP said:

“Europe needs an international agreement to step up the fight against counterfeit products. Counterfeit goods are causing billions of Euros of damages every year to European companies, thus also putting European jobs at risk. In addition, counterfeit products do not often fulfil European safety requirements, posing significant health hazards to consumers.

Many of the provisions included in ACTA provide a useful basis to step up the fight against counterfeit products and ensure an adequate protection of consumers and companies alike. This is undisputed. On the other hand, our intensive discussions with citizens and legal experts have shown that we need more legal clarity regarding certain provisions in the agreement in respect of its online chapters.

It must be ensured not only that ACTA fully respects the EU legal order, especially the Fundamental Rights Charter and the data protection acquis. It is also important that ACTA is not open to any interpretation that would infringe EU law.

We therefore call on the European Commission and Member States to ensure legal clarity regarding the following provisions of ACTA, before the EPP Group can support the agreement:

1. Avoid internet service providers automatically policing the web
Many members of the Internet community fear Member States might force internet service providers into large-scale supervision of all online activities. The EPP Group does not want Internet Service Providers to police the web in an inappropriate way and considers this as contrary to EU data protection law. We therefore ask the Commission and the Council to ensure legal clarity on the role of ISPs under ACTA.

2. Define large-scale IPR infringement
ACTA only targets large-scale infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR), allowing for signatory states to exempt non-commercial use from its criminal enforcement procedures. However, it is unclear where to draw the line. The EPP Group does not want to criminalise individual users. We therefore ask the Commission and Member States to define the notion of infringement of intellectual property rights on a commercial scale and to add legal clarity as to when Member States could impose criminal enforcement measures on internet users.

In the interest of European consumers, businesses, as well as Internet users, we need to put an end to the hysteria surrounding ACTA and make real progress on the key challenges ahead: stop dangerous counterfeit products from entering our market, safeguard intellectual property on which our economy thrives, and continue to preserve freedom on the Internet. Just voting against ACTA would solve possible problems of ACTA but it would not solve the problems for which ACTA was invented, such as the need to fight against large-scale infringements of IPR, trademarks etc. The answer is not to vote against ACTA but to call on the Commission and Member States to fix the problematic issues and to get an agreement which is a step forward without creating new problems.”

For further information:
Christofer FJELLNER MEP, Tel: +32-2-2847536
Daniel CASPARY MEP, Tel: +32-2-2847978