Rapporteur on Fundamental Rights Finds ACTA Contrary to Democratic Values

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Paris, May 8th, 2012 – This morning, member of the EU Parliament Dimitrios Droutsas presented his draft report on the impact of ACTA for fundamental freedoms to his colleagues of the LIBE (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) committee. This draft report is a very fortunate acknowledgement of ACTA’s dangers for fundamental rights and democracy, which must play a key role in leading the rest of the EU Parliament to reject ACTA.

On April 26th, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) presented its second opinion on ACTA in the “civil liberties” committee (LIBE). This opinion, slamming the agreement, was widely supported by members of the committee.

Today, on May 8th, the rapporteur Dimitrios Droutsas presented his draft report to the LIBE committee, highlighting that ACTA is a threat to fundamental freedom and would freeze any attempt to democratically debate copyright policy in the EU. As many LIBE members underlined the lack of a clear call for rejection of ACTA, he agreed to add to his report language stressing that ACTA is not compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, thus clarifying his position.

“Mr. Droutsas’ draft report is a very important acknowledgement that the EU has a role to play to protect and promote human rights internally and on the international stage, and that ACTA runs counter to this duty. The document also rightly underlines the need to open a broad debate on the future of copyright and overcome the dangerous antagonism between today’s current regime and the new social practices that are flourishing online, such as culture sharing.” said Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

“After the EU privacy watchdog’s opinion slamming ACTA, this draft report is yet another blow to the EU Commission and other copyright extremists within the Parliament, who have been relentlessly pushing for ACTA. The committee on civil liberties must approve Mr. Droutsas’ report, recommending the Parliament to reject ACTA and making clear that a broad and open-ended debate on the future of copyright is needed.” said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of La Quadrature du Net.

The LIBE committee will vote on its opinion on May 31st.

Key excerpts of the LIBE draft report

  • 4. (…) [The] level of protection that the EU (‘the European model’) is pursuing must be also upheld in its external dimension as the EU must be ‘exemplary’ in matters of fundamental rights and should not be perceived as allowing ‘fundamental rights laundering’. (…)

    5. Considers that ‘dignity, autonomy and self-development’ of human beings are deeply ingrained in this European model and recalls that privacy, data protection, together with freedom of expression have always been considered as core elements of this model as fundamental rights as well as political objectives; underlines that this must be taken into account when balancing against the right to protection of intellectual property and the right to conduct a business, rights also protected by the Charter.

  • 13. (…) the lack of specificity of the provisions, of sufficient limitations and safeguards casts a doubt on the necessary level of legal certainty required from the Agreement (eg: safeguards against misuse of personal data or to protect the right of defence).
  • 15. Considers that when fundamental rights are at stake ambiguity must be avoided and at the least reduced to a minimum; moreover and without assigning any wrongful intentions to the ACTA implementation measures takes the view that in the current state of affairs precaution should be exercised as regards ACTA in light of the serious and remaining question-marks surrounding the balance reached within the agreement between IPRs and other core fundamental rights and its level of legal certainty.
  • (…) Artists, together with activists, political dissidents and citizens willing to engage in the public debate, should not in any way find their ability to communicate, create, protest and take action inhibited. Especially not today, when, around the world, we are experiencing, and we welcome, a vast, uncontrolled expansion of voices which are finally able to be heard. As the sole direct representative of 400 million European citizens, the European Parliament has the responsibility to safeguard that this expansion will remain unhindered.
  • The culture of file-sharing, enabled by the remarkable technological advance of the last decades, certainly poses direct challenges to the way we have dealt with compensation of artists and proper enforcement of intellectual rights for the past decades. Our task, as policymakers, is to overcome this challenge by striking an acceptable balance between the possibilities that technology unravels and the continuation of artistic creation, which is an emblematic token of Europe’s place in the world.

    We are therefore, at a defining moment of this debate, an exciting juncture of change. In this sense, your Rapporteur believes that ACTA comes at a very premature stage and a possible adoption of the Treaty would essentially freeze the possibility of having a public deliberation that is worthy of our democratic heritage.