Viewpoints from the EU Institutions (Commission, Parliament, legal services) and other experts to clarify the aims and value of ACTA:

Legal Services of the European Parliament Opinion

"The conclusion of ACTA prima facie does not require the Union to adapt its acquis in the area of intellectual property rights and their enforcement, including legal acts relating to the digital environment."

"It appears that the Agreement per se does not impose any obligation on the Union that is manifestly incompatible with fundamental rights.“

"Moreover, when interpreting ACTA, the European Court of Justice and national Courts are called upon to give precedence to TRIPS should they consider that there is an incompatibility. This results from Article 1 of ACTA which specifically provides that its provisions cannot be interpreted as derogating from any obligation under existing agreements, including TRIPS. Therefore, it cannot be held that ACTA provisions are incompatible, in legal terms, with those in the TRIPS Agreement” (page 12).."

Opinion of the European Parliament Legal Service, as requested by Vital Moreira MEP, Chair of the International Trade Committee (INTA)

Referral to ECJ

European Commission seeks to quell political speculation by requesting ECJ opinion on ACTA. In an overview of its ECJ request, the Commission rejects the argument that the “vagueness” of certain provisions threatens fundamental rights because international trade agreements are necessarily broader than domestic laws, but will not be applied directly. Naturally, implementation by national governments will have to comply with existing laws, including fundamental rights. The Commission also points to the high number of safeguards in ACTA, especially with regard to online IPR enforcement.

Overview of the European Commission's referral of ACTA to the European Court of Justice

Council Decisions

16 December 2011 to unanimously authorize the EU and the member States to sign the Agreement

16.March 2012 to show continuous support of the Council by taking stock of the situation regarding the signature and ratification of the Agreement

Other expert opinions

Decision of the European Ombudsman

In October 2008, while ACTA negotiations were underway, a pro-transparency Dutch Foundation applied for full access to documents concerning the talks, arguing that these were in the public interest. The Council refused access to some of the requested information on the grounds that making it available could harm the ongoing negotiations, as well as future ones, and damage the EU’s relations with third country negotiating partners. This, it countered, would not be in the public interest. In February 2009, the Foundation complained to the European Ombudsman, calling for the Council to grant access to several of the documents in question. The Ombudsman investigated the complaint and concluded in July 2010 that the Council’s decision to preserve the confidentiality of sensitive documents was justified.

European Commission responds to MEPs’ questions about ACTA

Members of the European Parliament have posed a number of questions to the Commission about ACTA, on issues ranging from fundamental rights to transparency of the negotiating process and compatibility with the EU acquis communitaire (body of existing laws). The Commission has responded to each one, providing reassurances that, inter alia: ACTA does not require the monitoring of the internet by private companies; it is fully in line with relevant EU legislation guaranteeing the balance between IPR protection and fundamental rights and data protection; the Commission communicated regularly and comprehensively on negotiations throughout the process; and ACTA will not require changes to, or different implementations of, existing laws. Also, see: EC document on the transparency of negotiations and the Council answer to an EP question on transparency.

Reply of the European Commission to the Opinion by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)

Views from EU Commissioners

Views from Members of the European Parliament

Resources available from the European Commission

  • Ten Myths about ACTA. In response to the high volume of misinformation and unfounded rumours circulating about ACTA, DG Trade has published a rebuttal of 10 of the most common misperceptions. These include fears of censorship and monitoring, the myth that ACTA will introduce a “three-strikes” approach to online copyright enforcement, concerns about transparency, and the unfounded argument that ACTA will prevent developing countries from accessing cheap medicines.
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