Claims that anti-counterfeiting agreement goes beyond EU law.
By Simon Taylor
17.03.2011 / 05:08 CET
MEPs opposed to a new global anti-counterfeiting agreement will try next week to refer the pact to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), arguing that it goes beyond existing EU law.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green MEP, has written to Klaus-Heiner Lehne, chairman of the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee, and MEPs from other political groups, requesting that the ECJ’s opinion be sought on whether the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) complies with EU law. Albrecht and other MEPs want the issue put on the agenda of a meeting of the legal affairs committee on 21-22 March.
A deal was reached on ACTA by negotiators in December, but the agreement still has to be ratified by participating governments. It must also be approved by the European Parliament under Lisbon treaty rules, which give MEPs the right to reject international trade agreements.
Opponents of ACTA argue that it exceeds the scope of EU law because it imposes requirements to enforce anti-counterfeiting measures. The case against ACTA has received a boost from a group of seven European academic experts in intellectual property law. They have urged the EU institutions to withhold consent for the agreement as it contains “serious deviations” from EU law. They say they have “serious concerns on fundamental rights and data protection” and that the agreement fails to ensure a “fair balance of interests”. The group is collecting signatories in support of the opinion. So far 22 academics have backed the opinion, including several professors in intellectual property law.
The request to refer the ACTA text to the ECJ is expected to be supported by the Socialists and Democrats group and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. But MEPs from the European People’s Party group, including the committee chairman himself, are opposed to involving the ECJ.