EU trade commissioner de Gucht today announced that the European Commission will refer the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court of Justice to verify its compatibility with EU law. The Greens/EFA group, which has long argued that ACTA is in conflict with EU law and called for referral to the ECJ, welcomed the announcement as an important step to ensuring ACTA does not come into force in Europe. Commenting on the announcement, Green home affairs spokesperson Jan Philipp Albrecht said:
"The decision to refer ACTA to the ECJ is hopefully a nail in the coffin of this far-reaching and unnecessary agreement. The Greens have long called for this referral and, as such, welcome this overdue decision as an important step to ensuring ACTA does not come into force in Europe. The agreement should never have been concluded in the first place, given the serious concerns about its provisions and the shadowy negotiation process, but the Commission has at least done the right thing in referring ACTA to the court of justice.
"The result of a legal evaluation will not replace the political procedure for verifying this agreement and assessing its far-reaching consequences however. The European Parliament and national parliaments will continue to scrutinise ACTA as part of the ratification process. Regardless of the outcome of an ECJ evaluation, the Greens believe ACTA is politically wrongheaded. Recent demonstrations have also shown the extent of public opposition. Against this background, the Greens will push to ensure the EP refuses to give its consent.
"ACTA would block the much-needed reform of EU copyright law and instead lead to a heavy-handed and repressive enforcement of copyright with no regard to the basic rights of citizens. EU legislation on copyright needs to be urgently reformed to take account of the changed environment of information society but this will require a broad and inclusive consultation. The Greens will push to ensure the Commission engages in an inclusive and fundamental reform."