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Tuesday, 9 March 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (debate)

  Niccolò Rinaldi, author. (IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that there is an original sin in the subject that we are debating this evening, and that is the secrecy with which the negotiations have been carried out up to now. This secrecy has also possibly been exacerbated by an imbalance, if it is true that US industries, unlike the European public and institutions, have had access to a series of information resources on the basis of a confidentiality pact. The non­transparency of the negotiations is a problem that we face in other cases as well – we talked about this in the context of the agreement with Korea – and it is something that now, with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, must end.

It seems to me that this original sin is also the result of an abuse: that of using the fight against counterfeiting to lead other battles as if it were a kind of watchword in the name of which anything is allowed. Moreover, this is certainly an incredibly important battle for a trade power such as the European Union. Commissioner, I am from Venice, a city that you know well, where the regulations on counterfeiting products – I am thinking, for example, of Murano glass – used to be very severe (even extending so far as the death penalty). Therefore, this is definitely something that we must take seriously in an increasingly global economy such as our own.

However, this agreement is giving rise to serious threats, which are alarming the public, and the Commission must, of course, be aware of this. In fact, this issue, which really should be specific to the Committee on International Trade, is becoming less and less so, while the same committee is increasingly doing the work of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

We worry about issues relating to freedom of information and of expression via the Internet, the right to privacy and the possible criminal and civil consequences for Internet service providers. There is a sort of red line that should not be crossed, and I would ask the Commission to proceed very cautiously on this matter.

More strictly from a trade point of view, I would like to ask the Commissioner for reassurance that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) may not be used to hinder the sale of medicines available at more competitive prices; safe, generic medicines that do not infringe copyright and whose only crime is that they are produced by emerging countries such as India and Brazil and that they may encroach on western pharmaceutical industries.

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