Four members of the European Parliament on Tuesday called for the international anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) to be halted. The news comes after reports that the controversial accord had been "concluded" in Japan on Friday.
The MEPs, Greek Socialist Stavros Lambrinidis, French Socialist Francoise Castex, Czech center-right Zuzana Roithova and German Socialist Alexander Alvaro, have long argued for the negotiations to be more transparent and were outraged that the US prevented the EU from publishing the proposed agreement earlier this year.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, the agreement cannot enter into force without Parliament's consent and the MEPs are angry that "contradictory remarks" have been reported. "It appears that there is no credible way of knowing whether the negotiations are actually concluded or not," they said.
Angry at being kept in the dark, they have called on the Commission to explain the matter as soon as possible and to present the final ACTA text to the European Parliament as soon as possible, saying: "It is the Parliament that will ultimately have to decide on rejecting or accepting the agreement and a complete and thorough briefing of its Members is now more urgent than ever. Accordingly, we also call on Council and Commission not to proceed to any provisional application of the agreement, before the European Parliament has been given the chance to express its consent on the issue."
The concerned MEPs have warned they will not give the agreement their approval if they do not have enough time to read the text. These fears stem from last month when parliamentarians claimed they were only given half an hour to study the Passenger Name Record pact before it was put to the vote.
The ACTA agreement has been mired in controversy from the beginning due to worries that it may not uphold EU rules on data protection and privacy and that corporate interests will be protected at the expense of consumers. One particular concern is that countries will take the agreement as a green light to crack down on file sharing and individual customers' downloads.
The EU chief negotiator on ACTA is due to speak to journalists on Wednesday in an effort to clarify the situation.