Never before have I seen such cross-party unity in bashing a Commissioner as last night when Internal Market head Michel Barnier got a real roasting for the EU not supporting an effective Treaty for the visually impaired and print-disabled at the World Intellectual Property Organization. Today a resolution in favor of the Treaty was passed almost unanimously by the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2012-0062&language=EN
Here ares some of the expressions used by the MEPs who took part in the 40 minute debate last night: “Lack of sensitivity”, “Double standards”, “We are irritated with you”, “Your position is very disappointing”, “The EU practices obstructionism at WIPO”, “The EU blocks steps forward”, “The Treaty isn´t charity, it is a question of rights”, “ludicrous that digital formats don´t increase access”, “You just speak bla, bla, bla”, “For public debt binding law, for rights of blind voluntary recommendations”, “Don´t use creators as a barrier”, “I cannot understand the rigidity of the Commission at WIPO” and “Copyright is a glaring barrier to access”.
Here you can listen to the debate: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/speeches.do?sessionDate=20120215
Without any political escape in sight and under great dialectical pressure Commissioner Barnier lamely tried to get away with a few vague promises of an “open dialogue of stakeholders”, “leave all options open”, and “we want a pragmatic solution.” In the end Barnier was forced to assume the commitment to seek a mandate from the Council and the Commission to negotiate a binding treaty. He said it would not be easy because there were a number of member states who opposed a treaty. He called on the Parliament to support his task. This is the first time the European Commission has called for support of a binding Treaty for the Visually Impaired and Print Disabled.
David Hammerstein, TACD
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