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ACTA defeat a major victory for democratic rights


21 Jun 2012



"This has been a case of 'The Citizens of Europe versus the European Commission'", comments MEP Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL) after the defeat of the ACTA agreement in a vote in the lead committee, the International Trade Committee (INTA) in the European Parliament. "Today marks a victory for democracy."

With 19 votes in favour and 12 against, MEPs refused to give Parliament's consent to the controversial agreement. The vote followed an unprecedented last minute attempt by Commissioner De Gucht to postpone the decision. He spoke to the Committee late Wednesday afternoon to deliver a mixture of threats, appeals and promises to the members. This means the result of the vote is also a personal defeat for the Commissioner.

In his response to the Commissioner, MEP Helmut Scholz called it an "irony of history that ACTA is now about to provide a moment of victory for democracy, rewarding the voluntary work of many activists from the civil and digital rights movement, who perceived this treaty as a major threat to democratic rights."

He denounced ACTA as an "attempt by the few to impose control on the many", and recalled that MEPs are the elected representatives of the citizens of the European Union. The intensive public debate on ACTA among the citizens of Europe resulted in an imperative mandate for MEPs to reject the treaty. In the days prior to the vote, thousands of citizens sent protest letters to MEPs' mailboxes.

Scholz stressed that the Left in Parliament defends the rights of the creative sector, but that ACTA was not providing the right answer to a complex problem. He called for completely new and transparent deliberations in the multilateral framework of the World Intellectual Property Rights Organisation (WIPO).

For Irish GUE/NGL MEP Paul Murphy, who also sits on INTA, "the vote against ACTA today is an important victory in the fight against attacks on our civil liberties. It was defeated in the international trade committee thanks to the mobilisations of tens of thousands of people in protests across Europe. Now the pressure must be kept up in advance of the vote on ACTA in the plenary session of the Parliament to ensure that this pernicious attack on internet freedoms driven by the major corporate interests is defeated."

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20   

David Lundy +32 485 50 58 12

European United Left / Nordic Green Left

European Parliamentary Group