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In an unprecedented move, the French MEP Kader Arif has quit his position of scrutinizing the upcoming Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for the European Parliament, calling the passage through the EU policies system a masquerade.
"I want to denounce with utmost vigor the process that led to the signing of this agreement: no association of civil society, lack of transparency from the beginning of negotiations, successive postponements of the signing of the text without any explanation being given, setting aside the claims of the European Parliament [despite those views being] expressed in several resolutions of our Assembly," Kader Arif said in a statement translated from French on his website yesterday.
ACTA aims to create a centralized intellectual property enforcement policy for each of the European member countries. The European Parliament will vote on it in June, after the EU's International Trade committee (INTA) reviews it in its current form. Arif was previously assigned as a "rapporteur" with special responsibility for the treaty.
He said he had "faced unprecedented maneuvers from the right wing of Parliament to impose an accelerated schedule to pass the agreement as soon as possible before the public is alerted, thereby depriving Parliament of its right of expression and the tools at its disposal to carry the legitimate demands of citizens."
The controversial treaty in its current form will not mean any changes to EU law, and has already had many of its more severe clauses removed during negotiations that happened behind closed doors. It will however affect EU citizen's civil liberties, the responsibility of ISPs over Internet traffic and possible copyright violations by its customers, as well as the manufacturing of generic drugs according to Arif.
He is very concerned that ACTA could have a major impact on the lives of European citizens, and says the treaty appears to be produced in such a way as to make the European Parliament have no say. Upon stepping down from his post Arif firmly stated that he would "not participate in this charade."
It is unusual to see such honesty in political circles and gives a very clear and direct message. Despite this, the EU signed it Wednesday, so it's now up to the European Parliament to decide. Those in support of ACTA believe it is now a done deal, but perhaps Arif's condemnation of the whole process will encourage others to speak out as well.
Image credit: Wiki Noticia