Once more, there’s good news on the ACTA front. Today, the important European Parliament committee responsible for handling international trade issues, INTA, voted to recommend that the European Parliament reject ACTA when it comes to a plenary vote on 4 July.
Getting there was pretty exciting, what with mystery a MEP turning up to this morning’s vote (legitimately, I should add) and a recount occasioned by there being more votes than people voting, but in the end the committee voted 19-12 in favour of the report.
That was a surprise, since voting along purely party lines suggested it would be closer; the key difference seems to have been made by Polish MEPs who voted against ACTA. That’s appropriate, since it was in Poland that the ACTA revolt really took off back in January. One explanation I’ve read for this is that Eastern Europe is still much more sensitive about threats to liberty, having lived under a repressive regime for so many years. Let’s hope that applies to other countries from the area when it comes to the main vote in a couple of weeks' time.
Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who contacted their MEPs, either directly or via email. It does make a difference – indeed, several politicians have admitted that it was the unprecedented scale and force of the protests that convinced them to take another look at ACTA, which otherwise would have passed without difficulty.
Next week I’ll write some thoughts about how we can try to persuade as many MEPs as possible to reject ACTA definitively, and why that would be good for them, as well as good for us. Until then, I think we can all take a well-deserved rest – provided, of course, we don’t fall into the trap of thinking that we have already won. It’s true that five out of five European Parliament committees have voted to reject ACTA, but in the end, there’s only one vote that counts – that of the full European Parliament. The signs for that vote are looking far better than I dared hoped, but we’re not there yet...