The European Parliament has voted for a proposal to bring more transparency and public access to documents. The resolution includes specific language about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. In particular, it states:
Acting in accordance with Article 255(1) of the EC Treaty, the European Commission should immediately make all documents related to the ongoing international negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) publicly available.
The justification for the language is:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will contain a new international benchmark for legal frameworks on what is termed intellectual property right enforcement. The content as known to the public is clearly legislative in character. Further, the Council confirms that ACTA includes civil enforcement and criminal law measures. Since there can not be secret objectives regarding legislation in a democracy, the principles established in the ECJ Turco case must be upheld.
The vote sends a strong signal on the need to open the ACTA process and heightens the pressure on the negotiating countries to remove the veil of secrecy.
Michael Geist is a law professor and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa.