The false competence issue to ECJ
In July the European Commission sent a legal consultation to the European Court of Justice on the issue of whether the Marrakesh Treaty should or should not be ratified under the exclusive competence of the European Union. The reason the EC finally sent the consultation was to prevent a few individual EU member states from ratifying on their own. The ECJ opinion could take between 9 and 18 months but this does not prevent the Council of EU Ministers from ratifying the Treaty at any time. The European Parliament legal service has submitted to the ECJ its very clear opinion in favour of EU exclusive competence along the same lines as the Commission and the Council legal services have expressed. There is no doubt that the Court will rule it is the EU´s exclusive competence to ratify. The consultation can also be seen as a delaying tactic to divert attention from the blockage in the Council.
The other related news is that the European Commission is preparing a “Marrakesh Directive” to better implement the Treaty. The proposal that we hope will be practically a “copy-paste” of the Treaty will probably be out in December. It should be stressed that this is not at all a pre-requisite for ratification and, if it were necessary, could have been done after ratification. As well, the approval of a “Marrakesh Directive” will not in any way change the opposition of some Member States on the competence issue. Nevertheless, we must be alert about the content of this proposal to make sure it has the most favourable interpretation of the Treaty.
German blocking of Treaty
Treaty ratification is now supported by 21 of 28 EU Member States. If Germany changed its negative position, the “blocking minority” in the Council would probably collapse. This calls for political pressure on a political level in Berlin, both in the Justice Ministry and with political parties. To date very few people in the German Government and the Bundestag know anything about Germany´s blocking of the Treaty by using very dubious and totally unsubstantiated arguments: that it is not EU competence, that we need to change German copyright law first and that we need a new EU Directive first. All legal expert have told us the contrary. This is obviously a deceitful political ploy that needs to be exposed. Italy is using the same arguments. The UK´s position on competence is more of a result of the general “euro-skeptic” political ambience.
European Parliament takes action
In the last few weeks both the Legal Affairs Committee and the Petitions Committee have responded positively to the requests of the European Blind Union. Both have decided to send a letter via Martín Schulz, the European Parliament President, to the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council and to Donald Tusk(with copy to Member States), the permanent President of the Council, requesting immediate ratification of the Treaty. We shall circulate the texts when we gain access to them. Other measures, such as a resolution in the EP plenary and a press oriented event have also been requested by the EBU representatives to the Petitions Committee and we are awaiting a reply.