The European Commission has asked the European Parliament not to vote on the contentious Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in June.
The Parliament is likely to reject ACTA , but the Commission has argued that the vote should not take place until the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has delivered a verdict on the treaty's compliance with fundamental rights. The Commission formally referred ACTA to the court on Wednesday.
The European Commission has urged the European Parliament not to vote on ACTA before the ECJ has a chance to review it. Image credit: Salajean/Shutterstock
However, activists said the Commission's move was a trick designed to head off a quick and final rejection, and the Parliament's trade committee INTA decided late last month not to make a parallel referral to the court.
"Considering that tens of thousands of people have voiced their concerns about ACTA, it is appropriate to give our highest independent judicial body the time to deliver its legal opinion on this agreement," trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said in a statement on Wednesday.
"This is an important input to European public and democratic debate. I therefore hope that the European Parliament will respect the European Court of Justice and await its opinion before determining its own position on ACTA," De Gucht said.
Many groups in the European Parliament are outright opposed to ACTA, including the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA, which includes the Pirate Party) and the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group.
Even the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which dominates all branches of European-level government, has indicated that it is unhappy with the idea of delaying a democratic parliamentary vote for the year or two it will likely take the ECJ to make a decision.
The Parliament's Committee On Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) gave its draft opinion on ACTA last week, recommending that the Parliament reject the agreement on the basis that it "does not ensure a fair balance between the right to intellectual property and the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information".