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Tuesday, 9 March 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (debate)

  Zuzana Roithová (PPE). (CS) Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, we know that globalisation and, in particular, the entry of China into the WTO have created an enormous problem. Europe is awash with counterfeit goods which are ever more hazardous to human health and represent large economic losses to companies. Citizens and companies do not take kindly to the fact that the control mechanisms of Member States are totally insufficient, and they are rightly calling for more effective measures at the European level, including big fines for counterfeiters. This agreement should fundamentally improve international cooperation in detecting counterfeiters, but I do not think that our aim should be to prosecute secondary-school students who download games from the Internet. The content of the agreement negotiated over two years is secret, and so information concerning controversial articles which might affect the current rights of Europeans, their privacy and their personal data, only drips through. We gave the Commission no mandate for this.

I therefore fear that the ratification of this highly necessary agreement may be rejected in the European Parliament in a similar way to the SWIFT Agreement, unless the Commission can inform Parliament regularly as to the structure and limits of the negotiated agreement. I do not want us to be faced again with a finished article, in other words, an act that we must approve or reject, without being able to discuss its content in detail and dispel the concerns of our citizens.

I also consider it a strategic error that China, which is the largest source of counterfeits, was not invited to the negotiations on this agreement. I would therefore like to ask, Commissioner, if you could explain to us the tactics that are involved and whether you are in talks with the Chinese over China signing up to the agreement at a later date. Do you really believe this will happen?

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