ACTA: First, do no harm

The debate around ACTA is in full swing. The European Commission pretends that there’s nothing to see here, please move on. The informed European public thinks otherwise, prompting tens of thousands of people to take to the streets repeatedly.

This has prompted the Commission to play for time. It has asked the European Court of Justice to check whether ACTA is compatible with Europe’s current laws (the “acquis communautaire”). As La Quadrature du Net explains, this question misses the point entirely. It is so limited that the EC can be pretty sure of getting the answer it wants.

That’s because in reality, ACTA is a political issue, not a legal one. The real question is not “is ACTA legal?”, but “do we need ACTA?” The assessment commissioned by the European Parliament’s INTA committee says no, as do most other people who have taken a close look at the agreement.

Now it’s the turn of the European Parliament to make up its mind. Do MEPs really want to ratify a treaty that offers no visible advantage to most people in Europe, but comes with lots of risk for repressive implementations by member states?

And will MEPs accept that they were sidelined during the negotiation process, and kept in the dark about most things relating to ACTA? Will they rubberstamp a text of questionable value?

Or will they demand (and earn) respect as the elected representatives of Europe’s citizens?

I wish they would.