European Digital Rights on ACTA´s Democratic Vacuum
The European Parliament has given its legal service the task of explaining
why a circle is a square – or rather why ACTA is simultaneously in line with
existing EU legal provisions, while not denying that it will ultimately
require changes to EU law.
The sleight of hand of the European Commission relies on the fact that
Member States will have to approve the criminal measures of ACTA, while the
EU will have to approve the rest.
The first task is therefore to beat democratically elected national
parliaments into submission. They are doing this by holding high-level
signing ceremonies in, for example, the World Trade Organisation. No
parliament will want to be seen to holding back an initiative that appears
to have such momentum – even though ACTA lives, and has always lived in a
democratic vacuum and has no democratic legitimacy.
Having being pushed into agreeing to impose criminal sanctions (with no
minimum level to ensure any level of proportionality) for undefined
“commercial level” infringements or “indirect” infringements, the 27 Member
States will implement 27 different levels of criminal sanctions. Then, to do
its duty of harmonizing the single market (which it has failed to do on
exceptions and limitations, licensing, etc), the European Commission will
have no choice but to propose a Directive on criminal sanctions for
copyright enforcement, harmonizing around the more restrictive countries’
policies. It is, after all, a complete coincidence that the Commissioner
responsible and the MEP leading the charge in the Parliament are from the
same political party, in France, which has some of the most restrictive,
repressive copyright enforcement laws in Europe.
And there you have it, EU legislation proposed as a reaction to ACTA…
which is already in line with EU law… apparently. No wonder the European
Parliament legal service representative at today’s Legal Affairs Committee
meeting looked uncomfortable.
EDRI (EUROPEAN DIGITAL RIGHTS)