Quick and hasty update. Today I finally got an answer from the European Commission concerning my confirmatory request for document access. As expected it was denied. Basically I contested several arguments and the reply did not get much into details. For quite some time I am interested in document access regulation and the tricky questions on how to draw the line.
As a result of my request, a document was “released”. A few days ago the FFII association launched a twitter joke related to that document:
#Commission unveils #ACTA criminal enforcement chapter http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/09/st14/st14696-ex01.en09.pdf #fail
From a mere citizen perspective in a liberal-democratic order I feel slightly scared by the secrecy and policy laundry from DG Trade. It explains why TRIPs as a trade process was a very dangerous precedent. A huge scandal is characterized by the amount of complaints. Can there be a scandal without notice and uproar? We don’t have a good phrase for the silent case. While the interested public now pays closer attention to ACTA it is of course all negotiated in parallel with bilateral talks, for instance the Korea-EU Trade Agreement comprises ACTA provisions. The usurpation of legislature by trade administration is a generic weakness of our order. Strange how the Commission is able to negotiate with third nations over related criminal provisions while there are no criminal provisions on the matter in the acquis communautaire. In the Council the member states fail to get common grounds on a proposed IPRED2 directive with criminal provisions.
Translated from my eurochinese: As there is no “EU criminal law”, the European Commission has probably technically no competence for the matter. While the corresponding EU-legislative project remains stalled because of EU member states dissent in the Council, the European Commission negotiates the same legislative aspects with nations outside the EU, trying to reach an agreement which would also bind EU legislators.
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There is a new information from Sweden, Åsa Torstensson from the Swedish Government will meet the United States representatives on ACTA transparency. She is the Swedish minister for Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication, and Sweden is still presidency of the European Council. We rebuild kindly translated the substance of her message for non-Swedish speaking parties:
There is a shadow on the world, a shadow of secrecy surrounding the ACTA treaty. We are concerned that this treaty will have severe consequences for the future of the Internet. But there is no need to fear, only to rebuild and patch the errors that appear in politics.
Towards the end of this month, Swedish Minister of Communications Åsa Torstensson will travel to Washington DC to convey one (out of several other) important message from the European Union and Sweden. …
Åsa Torstensson will also meet with the president’s advisor Peter Cowhey (Senior Counselor to the US Trade Representative) in order to discuss the new trade agreement known as the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” (ACTA), which is currently being negotiated. Åsa Torstensson will present the opinion that the negotiations process should be opened up, so that interested parties and groups are given the opportunity to submit more detailed opinions about the contents of the negotiations and draft documents.
Let me add that 1st of December Art 15 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU is set into force. In my German language “confirmatory application” for an ACTA document access to the European Council I argued recently that this takes effects for the ACTA document access regime as well.
I continue to advocate the following doctrine:
If the EU-Commission (DG Trade) is unable to comply with Art 15 (former Art 255) citizen rights then the Commission lacks authority to negotiate such legislative and regulative matters with these third nations. It is upon the US and other nations to agree on a transparency regime compliant with Art 15 citizen rights.
It seems unacceptable to me that documents are provided to few American professional lobbyists but not to European legislators (despite repeated requests) and European citizens which enjoy a right scrutinize such documents of legislative nature.
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