When ACTA rapporteur Kader Arif threw in the towel a couple of weeks ago my initial thought was ‘OK, this is it, the European Parliament is about to capitulate‘. You can read more about Arif’s reasons here.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
What has subsequently happened has been one of the fastest and strongest EU-wide mobilisations of opposition ever seen. The Economist rounds up critique and u-turns in national parliaments, while public protests are due across the EU tomorrow.
Meanwhile in Brussels, the Party of European Socialists has expressed its opposition to ACTA and thrown its weight behind the protests. In the EP a new rapporteur – UK Labour MEP David Martin has been appointed and he’s tweeted a link to the PES position, although his own take remains largely unknown.
If this level of opposition is kept up there may yet be a way to prevent ACTA entering into force…
UPDATE – 1800
EP President Martin Schulz is now getting involved – on German TV this weekend about ACTA:
This morning more than 2.1 million citizens had signed the Avaaz online petition to reject ACTA.
Now following Stop ACTA Helsinki which joins Europeans in more than 200 demonstrations today.
Perhaps EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht is still “not impressed” by European civil society – but I am.
ACTA is an agreement between national governments. It obligates them to legislate in a particular fashion. It can’t be amended by their legislatures, only accepted or rejected. It will be very expensive to amend the agreement itself, as this would basically require unanimity between the signatory states. ACTA never appeared on any election manifesto, and has been driven by lobbyists working for concentrated producer interests, using civil servants, and the executive branch of governments to negotiate the details of future legislation behind the backs of parliaments.
For me, this makes ACTA bad, even without considering its content or effects.
It’s also a description true of … every European directive. The EU is basically one generalised policy laundering machine.