ACTA Referred To European Court of JusticeBy: Chris Richardson - February 22, 2012
Is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement treaty, otherwise known as ACTA, compatible with what is referred to as the EU’s “fundamental rights and freedoms?” Some EU officials are asking that very question, and to help determine the answer, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht indicated the highly-flammable — at least from a social sense — piece of legislation would be referred to the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice.
What happens if, after careful deliberation, the EU court decides that ACTA is not compatible with the rights De Gucht discussed? Does that delay, if not entirely kill the ratification process? While there have been a number of countries to sign the ACTA treaty — The United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, to name a few — would a ruling against it stop the treaty in its tracks? Considering the fact that ACTA has to be ratified by the European Union parliament, proceedings that are supposed to happen this summer, such a ruling could derail the oft-protested treaty.
De Gucht’s discussed his motivations during a press conference, via Reuters:
“This morning, my fellow commissioners have discussed and agreed in general with my proposal to refer the ACTA agreement to the European Court of Justice,” said EU trade chief Karel De Gucht, referring to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
“We are planning to ask Europe’s highest court to assess ACTA’s compatibility with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression and information or that of protection,” he told a regular news briefing.
While the Polish government initially tried to downplay the massive amount of protesting ACTA received, especially from their citizens, it’s clear the global backlash against ACTA has not fallen on deaf ears.
While some countries have put their signatures on the treaty, a number of prominent members of the European Union — Germany, Poland, the Netherlands — have decided to delay their commitment, at least until the EU parliament weighs in. Now that the European Court of Justice is involved, their position may be revealed a little sooner.