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Parliamentary questions
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6 November 2012
Question for written answer E-010043-12
to the Commission
Rule 117
Amelia Andersdotter (Verts/ALE)

 Subject:  Use of Special 301 Reports as a soft law tool with respect to Member States
 Answer in writing 

With reference to the Commission’s answer to Question E-007816/2012, in which it states that it is not aware of any concrete situations where US Special 301 Reports or similar forms of ‘soft law’ hamper the development of the internal market and harmonisation of intellectual property rights in the EU, I wish to highlight the information contained in a cable sent by the US embassy in Madrid to Washington in 2008 and published by the media in 2010.

‘We propose to tell the new government that Spain will appear on the Watch List if it does not do three things by October 2008. First, issue a [Government of Spain] announcement stating that Internet piracy is illegal, and that the copyright levy system does not compensate creators for copyrighted material acquired through peer-to-peer file sharing. Second, amend the 2006 “circular” that is widely interpreted in Spain as saying that peer-to-peer file sharing is legal. Third, announce that the GoS will adopt measures along the lines of the French and/or UK proposals aimed at curbing Internet piracy by the summer of 2009.’

The Spanish legislation was considered in line with internal market rules at the time. In 2010, as the Spanish authorities had failed to respond to the pressure from the US representative, Spain was put on the 301 Report Watchlist. As a direct consequence of this, the ‘Sinde Law’, or Ley de Economia Sostenible, was brought forward in Spain in 2010 and approved by the Spanish Parliament in 2011.

Given that this is sufficient proof of the fact that the USA has used the 301 Reports to bring about changes in the legislation of a Member State, and as this happened despite the fact that the Member State was under no obligation to comply, can the Commission clarify how it is ensuring that the EU acquis is respected and the internal market framework is not further disrupted by external factors?

 OJ C 320 E, 06/11/2013
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