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ANTI-COUNTERFEITING TRADE AGREEMENT : COMMISSION TO REFER DOUBTS ON ACTA TO EU COURT.

The European Commission confirmed, on 28 March, that it plans to ask the EU Court of Justice for an opinion on the conformity of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) with European Union law. Members of the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA), on the other hand, decided not to submit the matter to the court and to speed up the process: the EP is expected to either approve or reject the agreement at its June plenary session. The situation is anything but clear, however.

For German MEP Daniel Caspary (EPP), "if Parliament submits ACTA to the court, it will no longer have a say on this issue". Much more incisively, Bernd Lange (S&D, Germany) commented that "ACTA will probably be buried before next summer".

"We will continue to work on this issue and as soon as it is ready, we will turn to the court," a Commission spokesman told reporters. The decision is expected in the coming weeks, a source told Europolitics, on 21 March. But is this initiative still relevant if the EP decides to come out for or against the agreement, and does so even before the court has had time to give its opinion?

Doubts are starting to surface about the European Parliament's legal capacity to give an opinion on the substance of the agreement if it is being examined by the court, Europolitics learned. This source added that it may prove necessary to review this case, for which there is no precedent, in the light of Article 90 of the EP Rules of Procedure, which concerns international agreements. It is not clear whether this is mere rumour or a real issue.

The ACTA was signed by the Union and 22 member states in late January.

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Publication:European Report
Date:Mar 29, 2012
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