ACTA: Commissioner De Gucht Lies to the EU Parliament

Paris, February 1st 2012 – The EU Commission “Trade” Directorate-General is lobbying the EU Parliament, presenting a one-sided and plainly distorted view of ACTA to face the growing citizen opposition. The EU's executive branch, which negotiated ACTA behind citizens' backs, is now shamelessly relaying the copyright industries' lobbying pitch, in yet another sign of its collusion with business interests.

EU Commissioner for International trade, Karel De Gucht, has sent a letter to members of the EU Parliament (MEPs)1. Once again, he downplays the legitimate concerns expressed against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, ACTA. Attached to this letter is a “Question & Answer” document meant to help MEPs “reassure” their constituents2.

In response, La Quadrature du Net has created a participative document3 to help citizen debunk one after the other the lies of the EU Commission, which keeps denying the evidence that ACTA is a dangerous and illegitimate agreement.

The opposition to ACTA is not mere media hype, as Commissioner De Gucht seems to believe. For months, its dangers have been repeatedly stressed by leading legal scholars4, an independent study commissioned by the EU Parliament itself5, winners of the Sakharov Prizes6, the Senate of Mexico7, broadcasters and telecoms trade associations8, global NGOs such as OXFAM9, Doctors Without Border10 or Article 1911, but also some of the EU's main trading partners and many others (see our wiki page compiling the criticism of ACTA12).

“By pretending that ACTA is inoffensive, Commissioner De Gucht is trying to hide the European Commission's immense responsibility in initiating a negotiation process circumventing democratic arenas. The 18 July 2007 discussion paper submitted in interservice consultation in the European Commission for the negotiating mandate13 included the criminalization of non-for-profit sharing by individuals. This is the truth behind ACTA and European citizens are taking to the streets because they have understood it.” , declared Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

“EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht is so close to the global copyright industry's lobbies that he remains blind to the legitimate concerns that have been expressed against ACTA for years. To get ACTA ratified, he is ready to lie to the European Parliament, dismissing all evidence showing that ACTA is actually a threat to free speech online, access to medicine, but also to innovation and competition. Such obscurantism clearly brings into question his ability to work for the EU's public interest and should resonate as a call for the Parliament to reject ACTA.” , said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.