Overwhelming Majority of European Parliament Members Vote To Strike-Down ACTA

David Hammerstein | David Hammerstein's Blog | July 4, 2012

It is the first time the European Parliament has rejected an international treaty already signed by the European Commission (and by 22 of 27 EU member states). The power of the EU´s legislative branch has been clearly reinforced.  This time the Parliament has not been the usual a rubber-stamp for questionable EU trade proposals. Of even greater importance, European civil society has emerged as a very powerful actor that can no longer be dispatched by EU institutions with the traditional “participate a little, then we´ll decide with our industry buddies.”

“Business as usual” has been disrupted by the ACTA affair for many reasons.

Transparency: the fight for transparency was a pivotal way of exposing EU officials who consistently hid documents, negotiated behind closed doors and gave preferential access to inside information to large industries. The eroding effect of leaked documents, tweeted closed-door meetings and widely spread rumours was devastating on the credibility of EU negotiators.

International civil society synergy: There has been an impressive and very fruitful collaboration between the academic world and the advocacy network to lay the intellectual and social infrastructure groundwork for a massive anti-ACTA response. Especially positive has been the common work on monitoring the negotiating strategies and contradictions of USTR and DG Trade proposals, both technically and politically. This transatlantic commonality of interest came to a head after the defeat in the US of SOPA and PIPA which had a contagious effect on European civil society. When the European Parliament finally started to decide on ACTA there was already a wealth of serious critical analysis, networked supporting organizations and clear substantiated bullet-points to convince all kinds of politicians...