The European Commission has withdrawn its request for the European Court of Justice to rule on the legality of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Though the parliament rejected the agreement by 478-39 on July 4, the trade trade commission had requested that the court determine whether or not it was compliant with European treaties, especially the Charter of Fundamental rights. With this ruling, ACTA is completely dead in the EU.
The agreement could still be ratified by other countries. ACTA Article 40 says it enters into force after the “sixth instrument of ratification, acceptance, or approval” by Member countries. However, only Japan has signed the agreement, and there is strong opposition to the agreement in many of the remaining countries (like the U.S. and Mexico).
ZDnet quotes MEP David Martin – “I welcome this news from the Commission today. The EU cannot be party to an agreement without European Parliament ratification. MEPs overwhelmingly rejected ACTA in July and I am pleased that the Commission has acknowledged this is the end of the road for ACTA in the EU thanks to the Parliament.”
Said Ante Wessells from the Foundation for a Free Internet Infrastructure: “The commission feared a negative court opinion on ACTA. Earlier it has always expressed full confidence that ACTA was fully compatible with the European Treaties and fundamental rights. It can never do this any more, as it now has withdrawn its referral to the Court.”
ACTA was an idea that was born out of the Global Congress Against Counterfieting and Piracy – a large event co-hosted by WIPO, Interpol, and a number of organizations representing IP rightholders. The next convening will be held in Istanbul in April – registration is open, and free for press. It will be interesting to see the conference’s reactions to the death of ACTA in Europe, and any hints on next steps for this community.