The controversial ACTA agreement has entered the critical final stage after three parliamentary committees voted on their recommendation on 31 May. The legal affairs committee voted against a draft opinion recommending approval, while the industry committee and the civil liberties committees approved reports recommending rejection. On 4 June the development committee also voted in favour of rejecting ACTA. We take a look at the last remaining steps.
In order for ACTA to enter into force in the EU, it will have to be approved by the Parliament and the Council as well as ratified by all member states.
MEPs are expected to vote on ACTA during the 2-5 July plenary, based on a recommendation by the international trade committee. Although this committee is in charge of the dossier, it will be given input by four other committees, namely the ones dedicated to legal affairs, civil liberties, industry and development.
British Social-Democrat David Martin, who is responsible for steering the agreement through Parliament, calls on his fellow MEPs to reject the agreement in his report. The international trade committee will vote on its recommendation on 20-21 June.
The European Commission is calling for ACTA to be approved. On 10 May it referred the agreement to the European Court of Justice for a ruling on whether it is compatible with the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms. It also asked the Parliament to wait with voting on ACTA until there was a ruling.
ACTA is aimed at more effectively enforcing intellectual property rights on an international level. Many developed countries worry that their economies suffer great damage due to counterfeiting and piracy. However, opponents are concerned that it will favour large companies' interests at the expense of citizens' rights. They also deplore the secrecy of the negotiations.