Schulz: European Parliament holds an open debate on ACTA (27/04/2012)

In a chat with Facebook users the president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz shared his vision of the positive and negative sides of the draft Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

As he says, “free access to all information including the use of cultural products is of the highest importance”, but “the draft ACTA agreement is probably not sufficiently clear about the necessary balance for the guarantee of such free access without damaging the copyrights on the other hand”.

Schulz believes that Europe needs a balanced agreement preventing counterfeiting but also protecting freedom. “A completely copyright-free society is not possible. We will always need to balance the rights to freedom versus the intellectual property rights”.

He admits that, according to the EU treaty, the European Parliament can only monitor the international negotiations on ACTA, but will be able to accept or reject the agreement in its vote in July. “The new treaty of the EU gives the Parliament a right to monitor also the negotiating process. This is what we are doing and therefore all negotiations are now transparent”.

The debate in the European Parliament “was completely open during the whole process”, Schulz says. He also argues that the European Parliament’s rapporteur on ACTA David Martin recommended rejecting the agreement, although the debate in the Parliament is “going on” today.

He also says that massive protests against ACTA in the EU have been a “sign of a European public political sphere”.

Asked whether ACTA is an attempt to impose the American vision of copyright protection on Europe, Schulz says he “does not believe so”, but even if the ACTA’s lobbyists tried to do this, “they have not succeeded because European transnational democracy is functioning well”.

He reminds that “ACTA is not only about privacy on the internet” but is “also about the fight against counterfeit products and that concerns both industry and consumers in the medical sector, for example”.

Schulz also says that he intends to engage himself in a “separate Facebook Chat on other topics than ACTA at a later date”.

See the whole chat on Facebook