A little more than a month since it became known that ACTA would be moving to the European Court of Justice, it has become known that ACTA will not move to the European Court of Justice after all but remains scheduled for a vote by the European Parliament in June. Confused yet? You need not be, and here is why.
You may remember that the rapporteur on ACTA, Kader Arif, stepped down amid something of a controversy, claiming that ACTA was a masquerade in which he no longer wanted to take part. You may also remember that massive protests were held all over Europe on February 11, to demand that the EU Parliament say ‘no’ to ACTA and to raise public awareness on the dangers of ACTA. As a result, several European nations held off on the ratification process. In light of this sudden (and probably unwelcome) uproar, the new rapporteur on ACTA, David Martin, suggested that the European Court of Justice be asked to look at the agreement and to check if it indeed violates fundamental human rights and existing European laws and treaties, as ACTA opponents have said. The key word here being “suggested”. Then, in a meeting of the European Commission on February 22, it was again suggested by EC president José Manuel Barroso that the Court of Justice be asked to look into ACTA, however with a slightly different look on the matter: to confirm the opinion of the European Commission that ACTA was perfectly okay, nothing to see here and we could we all just move along, please? Note again that this was a suggestion, it was not decided.
In what would appear to be a full reversal of this suggested course of action, the committee responsible for the ACTA dossier, INTA (International Trade Committee), decided not to follow through on this suggestion but instead proceed with the original plan of having the EU Parliament vote “yes” or “no” on ACTA once and for all in June of this year.
Of course this may have been the intention all along. The EC drops a few hints that the Court of Justice will examine the matter and this will delay the final vote by 18 months or so. People hear this and assume that it will happen like that. Protests die down, protesters focus their attention and energy on other matters and ACTA fades out of public attention for a bit. It could very well have been some tricky political manoeuvring on the part of European Commission.
However, tricky manoeuvring or not, I’m not entirely sure that this is a bad situation for those who are against ACTA and want to see it dead. There are still some 10 weeks left before Parliament will vote on ACTA, where a “no” will effectively be the end of the entire agreement. That is 10 weeks in which we can do our utmost to convince our MEPs to vote against ACTA. The protests are still quite fresh in the mind of the public. Our MEPs will not have forgotten them either, the worried emails, phone calls, Guy Fawkes masks in the streets and more. It is our job to make them remember and to keep telling them why ACTA is bad, why we don’t want it and why ACTA deserves to die. This would have been a lot harder 18 months down the road, when everyone has moved on and is concerned with other things. In fact, when I think about it this way, I feel that right now we have a better chance of defeating ACTA. It will be an intense 10 weeks of lobbying, but if we truly care about our freedom that should not be too high a price to pay. If it turns that it is too high a price, maybe we don’t deserve freedom after all.
So, do you want to see ACTA die? Then take action now, this very instant. Contact your MEP today! Let him or her know why you think ACTA is bad. Be polite but also be very clear. If you are Dutch, this site will help you: Stop ACTA. Do it, because that is democracy in action. Together, we can kill ACTA once and for all. Are you with us?