What is happening to the International Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement – ACTA

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The ACTA agreement witch implements standards aimed at protecting intellectual property worldwide, faced last week a strong anti-ACTA debate. At the beginning of last week Polish MEPs received more than 100 questions each concerning ACTA. The Commission is worried that this could cause some problem for the adoption of ACTA. The initial fear that ACTA would not be easily adopted by the EP is becoming more and more realistic.

On 27th January, the European Union signed up ACTA. Ratification of the treaty is foreseen for 2012. On the same day the French Socialist MEP, Kader Arif, who drafted the Parliament’s report on ACTA resigned, denouncing the treaty as “a masquerade”. 

The agreement was officially signed in Tokyo by 22 European member states (UK, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Poland and many others). Cyprus, Estonia, Slovakia, Germany and the Netherlands did not sign, but committed to do so in the near future.

In order to be definitely adopted, ACTA will need to be accepted (by a positive vote in plenary) by the EP to be legally valid.

The European Commission told EU observer the hold-up is “purely procedural” and that they will come on board shortly.

Parliament’s legal affairs, development, civil liberties and industry committees will give their opinions on the treaty in the coming weeks. These will be considered by the Parliament’s International Trade Committee when it makes its final report to Parliament on whether to accept or reject ACTA. Finally the deal will be voted upon by the whole  Parliament.

Outside the E.U., the agreement has so far been signed by the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.
However, the signatures of the EU member states and the EU itself will count for nothing unless the European Parliament gives its approval to ACTA in June, and digital activists have urged citizens to lobby their members
of the European Parliament against voting yes.

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