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7 civil society groups ask for transparency on ACTA


The controversial ACTA treaty will be discussed tomorrow in the a closed meeting of the European Parliament's committee on international trade (INTA). Together with six other civil society organisations, FSFE has urged the Parliament to make the committee session public, so that European citizens can form their own opinions on ACTA.

At issue is an unpublished Opinion of the European Parliament Legal Service on the ACTA treaty. This legal opinion would be highly interesting, as it could tell us whether the Parliament's own legal services believe that the treaty, and the highly intransparent process that led to it, are legal.

UPDATE: According to MEP Carl Schlyter, the committee discussion on ACTA has been postponed until further notice.

MORE UPDATE: We have just learned that the meeting will take place on November 23, and will be open to the public! According to the EP website, the meeting will start at 09:00 in Brussels, EP meeting room Altiero Spinelli 1G-2.

Here is the full text of the letter sent to the members of the INTA committee:

Dear Members of the Committee on International Trade,

The undersigned signatories of this letter are a group of international civil society organisations. We are extremely concerned and disappointed by the INTA Committee’s repeated insistence on keeping the deliberations around Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) hidden from the public.

According to your Committee’s website,1 there will be a meeting on 23 November at 09h00 at which an unpublished Opinion of the European Parliament Legal Service on ACTA will be discussed, in-camera. This lack of transparency is a long way from the legitimate expectations of citizens, in light of how the Parliament acted in the past. The current non-transparent approach is very different from the March 2010 position taken by the European Parliament which called on the Commission to “immediately make all documents related to the ongoing international negotiations on ACTA publicly available.”

This lack of transparency around a trade agreement which would undoubtedly affect all European citizens is in contravention with the guidance provided by Article 1 of the Treaty of the European Union. Given the implications of this plurilateral agreement to fundamental rights, international trade, access to medicines, innovation, and the integrity of the global internet,2 these conversations cannot be hidden from the public. In light of the Turco Case3 and the Committee’s obligations under Article 15 of the TFEU, we strongly object to this discussion being held in-camera.

As a first step to creating greater transparency around discussions and the eventual consent procedure on ACTA, the signatories of this letter urge the INTA Committee to make the meeting where the Legal Service Opinion on ACTA will be discussed open to the public.

European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)
Health GAP (Global Access Project)
Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD)