Defeating ACTA: Now or Never

Well, never a dull moment in the world of ACTA. After I wrote yesterday's column summing up what I thought was the final state of play, things got very interesting in Strasbourg. Rumours swirled that the right-of-centre EPP Group would be...

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Well, never a dull moment in the world of ACTA. After I wrote yesterday's column summing up what I thought was the final state of play, things got very interesting in Strasbourg. Rumours swirled that the right-of-centre EPP Group would be trying to use the agenda meeting last night to call for ACTA to be postponed. After a flurry of excitement, nothing happened then. But a little later, this tweet was posted on the EPP Group account:

#EPP€¬ will ask during tomorrow's debate on €ª#ACTA€¬ for a postponement of the vote until we have ECJ's ruling.

According to the Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, the ACTA sessions begins at 3pm local time (2pm UK), which means we have a few hours to head off this attempt – and to make a last plea to MEPs to vote against ACTA.

In the light of this latest development, I am sending the following email to my MEPs:

I am writing to ask you to vote against any postponement of Wednesday's plenary vote on ACTA. Waiting until after the ECJ has handed down its ruling, as the EPP Group has said that it may call for (https://twitter.com/EPPGroup/status/219837848587747328), would delay the vote on ACTA by a year or more – an intolerable delay for European citizens who, after six months of extraordinary engagement, are looking to you for decisive action now.

Many of ACTA's deepest problems lie outside purely legal concerns – for example, the dangerously vague way that ACTA has been written, particularly the use of the undefined term "commercial scale". What European citizens require is a political decision on ACTA, not a purely legal one, and only the European Parliament can do that – with no need to wait for the ECJ.

The political nature of your decision has been amplified by comments from Commissioner De Gucht, who in a speech to the International Trade committee admitted that he will re-submit ACTA to the European Parliament if it is rejected tomorrow (available at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/12/477&format=HTML). This is a clear attempt to intimidate the European Parliament into ratifying ACTA by threatening to re-submit it until it does; it therefore requires a robust response in the form of a clear vote against ACTA.

Voting for ACTA will be interpreted by the European Commission as acquiescence to its power, and will be exploited in future negotiations. Voting against ACTA will not only safeguard the liberty of European citizens, but will also strengthen the position of the European Parliament, and of European democracy.

For these and the many other reasons that people across Europe and across a broad political spectrum have noted, I urge you to allow the plenary vote to take place tomorrow, and to vote against ACTA at that time.

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