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European Parliament prepares for crucial ACTA vote

2.8 million people say no to treaty

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On Thursday the European Parliament's International Trade Committee will vote on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and give its recommendations on whether or not to recommend the controversial treaty.

Some votes are already pretty clear: Scottish MEP David Martin's opposition, for example is plain. He is serving as the rapporteur or observer on ACTA, after the last one quit in protest over the nature of the treaty and the methods used to get it on the statute book.

"Whether you are for or against ACTA, the fact that the EP, as the voice of the European citizens, has had the opportunity to look at this issue in detail and come to a conclusion should be welcomed," he said. "It doesn't matter which side you are on, the fact this has been subject to open democratic scrutiny is a great plus."

So far over 2.8 million people have signed a petition organized by AVAAZ against the ACTA treaty and several countries, most recently the Netherlands, have rejected the treaty. While the European Commission, made up of appointed rather than elected representatives, still supports ACTA, members have given strong indications that the treaty is dead in the water.

"ACTA does not modify the current EU legislation and in no way, directly or indirectly, infringes any EU fundamental rights," said Benoît Lory of the European Commission in a statement. "The legal services of the European Commission and the European Parliament have provided assurance of this."

Meanwhile campaigners are doing their best to stifle ACTA by mobilizing public support. The Open Rights Group is mobilizing its member base and internet rights group La Quadrature du Net is calling for a quick vote to settle the issue once and for all.

"So far all committees have called for the rejection of ACTA," it said. "We urge the INTA members to do the same, and vote against any amendment calling for the adoption of ACTA or for postponing the final vote of the Parliament. Delaying the vote is a deceptive stratagem that the EU Commission and industry lobbies have been pushing for weeks in order to save face." ®

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