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Parliamentary questions
12 September 2008
Answer given by Mr Mandelson on behalf of the Commission

1. The Commission represents the European Union in the negotiations of a plurilateral anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA).

The negotiating guidelines for ACTA were formally adopted by the Council on 14 April 2008. Since then, the EU (represented by the Commission and with the presence of the Presidency and Member States) participated in the first ACTA negotiating round, 3‑4 June 2008, in Geneva. Discussion focused on customs enforcement issues. The second round took place in Washington on 29‑31 July 2008, and was aiming at reaching an agreement on the provisions on customs and introducing civil enforcement matters.

Participants in ACTA include Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States (US).

2. In the works of the Lisbon Agenda, the Commission identified intellectual property as one of the EU's key competitive assets. However, there is a growing concern internationally about the increasing misappropriation of the intellectual property rights (IPR) of the most creative and competitive industries around the world. The proliferation of IPR infringements poses an ever-increasing threat to the sustainable development of the world economy.

In this sense, the Commission considers it very important to improve the international legal framework of IPR, through the negotiation of ACTA with partners like the Switzerland, the US, Japan, Canada, Korea, Mexico and others.

So far, there were only two negotiating rounds, focusing on one single issue (customs enforcement) therefore it is not possible to talk about concrete ACTA measures. However, the Commission considers ACTA as a unique opportunity for the EU to promote its modern and effective acquis in terms of IPR enforcement (inter alia the 2003 Customs Regulation(1), the 2004 Civil Enforcement Directive(2), or the 2001 Information Society Directive(3)) to other important trade partners.

3. ACTA will not be about limiting civil liberties or harassing consumers. It will obviously respect fundamental rights and be submitted to EU legal constraints on issues, such as data protection.

4. As mentioned above, ACTA will be an opportunity for the EU to promote and export its positive acquis on IP enforcement, not a hidden way to modify it.

Member States insisted on being closely involved in the process due to the likely inclusion of matters of criminal policy. Consequently, the Presidency will fully participate in the negotiation on this matter (and other matters falling within the competence of Member States).

The Commission considers it essential that the penal enforcement of serious IP infringements be urgently harmonised at EU level. If anything, the non adoption of the Penal Enforcement Directive(4) weakens the negotiating position of the EU before its ACTA partners.

5. For the moment, ACTA is being negotiated on the basis of Article 133 of the EC Treaty. As is the practice for trade-related issues, the Commission has briefed Parliament (INTA Committee) on ACTA since the launch of the process.

As mentioned in point 2 above, ACTA is more an opportunity to export the EU acquis than to modify its legislation. Although it is premature to make definitive statements, it is likely that ACTA will require no or very minimal specific implementing legislation within the EU. If such implementing legislation is required, it would follow the relevant legislative process as defined in the Treaty.

(1)Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003 of 22 July 2003 concerning customs action against goods suspected of infringing certain intellectual property rights and the measures to be taken against goods found to have infringed such rights, OJ L 196, 2.8.2003.
(2)Directive 2004/48/EC of Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, OJ L 157, 30.4.2004.
(3)Directive 2001/29/EC of Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, OJ L 167, 22.6.2001.
(4)COM(2006)168 final.

OJ C 999, 01/01/2009
Dernière mise à jour: 19 septembre 2008Avis juridique