Although most MEPs rejected ACTA on Wednesday 4 July, some of them believed it would have been better to postpone the vote. The Commission asked the European Court of Justice in May to check the agreement does not violate European legislation. Some MEPs argued it would be better to wait for the Court's ruling, while others said there was no need as they felt there were already sufficient grounds for a rejection. We asked two MEPs about their position on ACTA.
Amelia Andersdotter, a Swedish Pirate Party member of the Greens/European Free Alliance group in Parliament
It's fundamentally a bad idea to outsource the rule of law to private companies. If the state feels that duties must be put on private parties to ensure any rights granted by the government, surely it should feel obliged to regulate the private parties directly? This is a real and tangible risk to the freedom of expression, opinion and creativity. This is the first objection to ACTA and an important one too.
It seems counter-intuitive to have such a strong push for the criminalisation of infringements. The broad range of activities which would be covered by the criminal provisions of ACTA include activities which for a large part of the European population would be seen as perfectly reasonable and socially acceptable. Criminalisation is the punishment we use for activities that are deemed socially unacceptable.
The injunction scheme introduced is seen as harmful to trade in generic medicines, which in many cases do not infringe on any rights in either origin or destination market. When customs authorities get an overly broad mandate, it also increases the risk of wrongful seizures of imports into the Union. Since the ensuing court cases are very time consuming and financially burdensome for the accused party, it effectively does not matter if the accusation was made in error since the opportunity to defend one's innocence is too small.
I want a balanced European policy for entrepreneurship and civil liberties. This is why I reject ACTA.
Christofer Fjellner, a Swedish moderate member of the EPP group in Parliament
I'm convinced that we do need an international agreement to fight counterfeiting, piracy and other violations against intellectual property. This is of the utmost importance for European innovation and jobs. ACTA has been surrounded by controversy from the start, the closed process has been rightly criticised. The EU, the Parliament and myself were all at the fore of this. Because of this, we now have access to the most comprehensive documentation of any trade negotiation I've ever been involved in. Despite this, the agreement has faced continuous criticism and has also been the subject of many demonstrations both in member states and on the internet. Believe me, this is a very serious issue for me. I have worked long to protect freedom on the internet and will continue to do so. I would never vote yes to a proposal that in any way endangers the freedom we take for granted, nor would the EPP. This is why I believe it is so important that we await the ruling of the court. This way, we would have legal guarantees that ACTA is not in violation of any of the treaties or the basic human rights. We must also give the Commission the time to clarify and better define two key points: what is meant by commercial scale and criminal sanctions. If the Court's opinion is that ACTA is incompatible with the treaty, that would provide us with some very useful information too about what went wrong so it can be changed for future contracts. This is why we should give the Court the opportunity to decide whether ACTA is the way forward to achieve what we need.