ACTA, CETA, TAFTA: Is De Gucht Again Trying to Impose Anti-democratic Repression?

Paris, 7 February 2013 – Commissioner De Gucht is currently in Canada, trying to conclude CETA, the Canada-EU Trade Agreement. Meanwhile, he has started negotiating with the US on TAFTA, a new US-EU "trade agreement". La Quadrature du Net recalls that there is still no credible evidence to suggest that ACTA-like criminal sanctions and repressive copyright provisions damaging a free Internet were removed from CETA, and it is likely that they will appear in TAFTA. Karel De Gucht, who several times lied openly to the public and the European Parliament during the ACTA debate, might once again push for repressive measures undermining fundamental freedoms, under the cover of trade agreements. Citizens must remain watchful and denounce this growing trend.

Negotiated since 2009 instead of being democratically debated, CETA (the Canada-EU Trade Agreement), could be concluded soon. Karel De Gucht, the EU Commissioner for Trade and one of the main negotiators of ACTA, is currently in Ottawa for a ministerial meeting aiming to finalize it. Leaks dated of February 2012 have showed that the worst repressive bits of ACTA were copy/pasted into CETA. Since then, the negotiations have continued, still in secret and without participation of citizens or their representatives. As long as the current version of the text is kept secret, it will be impossible to affirm that the EU Commission and Karel De Gucht are not trying to impose repression of online communications through the back-door.

Commissioner De Gucht showed in the past he was ready to push for the repressive measures demanded by the entertainment industry. He did not hesitate to lie to the EU Parliament, to assert that he would ignore a MEPs' negative vote on ACTA1, and to insert the repressive measures in another trade agreement that he is negotiating. As Karel De Gucht starts to discuss of a new trade agreement between the US and the EU, TAFTA (the Transatlantic Free Trade Area), it is likely that the latter will contain new dangerous measures threatening our freedoms, inspired by ACTA and CETA.

“The inclusion in trade agreements of provisions that undermine fundamental freedoms and a free Internet is not acceptable and will never be legitimate. Copyright-related measures, including criminal sanctions, that threaten Internet and our freedoms must be debated in a democratic and transparent way, rather than negotiated in total opacity, whether in CETA, TAFTA, or in any other 'trade agreement'. Citizens must oppose this anti-democractic trend by alerting public opinion and their elected representatives” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

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  • 1. “If you decide for a negative vote before the European Court rules, let me tell you that the Commission will nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do. A negative vote will not stop the proceedings before the Court of Justice.” Karel De Gucht, INTA Committee - Brussels 20 June 2012