MEP quits ACTA 'charade' in protest at EU signing

A French MEP has quit the process of scrutinising ACTA for the European Parliament, calling the treaty's passage through the EU legislative system a masquerade.In a statement on Thursday, Kader Arif denounced the signing of ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) by the EU and 22 member states earlier in the day.

A French MEP has quit the process of scrutinising ACTA for the European Parliament, calling the treaty's passage through the EU legislative system a masquerade.

In a statement on Thursday, Kader Arif denounced the signing of ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) by the EU and 22 member states earlier in the day. He said the European Parliament was being undermined and the process was a "charade" in which he would no longer participate.

An EU diplomat signed ACTA, which is aimed at harmonising the intellectual property enforcement regimes of many countries, on behalf of the European Commission, along with member states including the UK.

However, the European Parliament will only vote on ACTA in June, after the EU International Trade Committee (INTA) examines it. Arif was the person in that committee who was assigned as 'rapporteur' with special responsibility for the treaty.

"I want to denounce as the greatest of all the process that led to the signing of this agreement: no association of civil society, lack of transparency from the beginning of negotiations, successive postponements of the signing of the text without any explanation being given, setting aside the claims of the European Parliament [despite those views being] expressed in several resolutions of our Assembly," Arif said, according to an automated translation of his statement.

Arif said he had as rapporteur "faced unprecedented manoeuvres of the right of Parliament to impose an accelerated schedule to pass the agreement as soon as possible before the public is alerted, thereby depriving Parliament of its right of expression and the tools at its disposal to carry the legitimate demands of citizens".

The Commission says ACTA, which had many hardline clauses removed during its behind-closed-doors negotiations, will in its present form not mean any changes to EU law.

However, the MEP said ACTA would have an impact on civil liberties, ISPs' responsibilities and the manufacturing of generic drugs.

"This agreement may [have a] major impact on the lives of our citizens, and yet everything is done [so that] the European Parliament has no say," Arif said. "I will not participate in this charade."

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