This is to clarify whether acta is compatible with european fundamental rights. EU trade commissioner karel de gucht announced this in brussel on wednesday. Federal justice minister sabine leutheusser-schnarrenberger spoke of a wise decision.
The judges should clarify whether the agreement complies with the EU’s right to freedom of expression and information, data protection and the protection of intellectual property. In doing so, the eu commission wants to counter international criticism: "the debate must be based on facts and not on false information or rumors," the commissioner said.
The anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (acta) is an international trade pact aimed at enforcing copyright worldwide. Critics see treaty agreement as restricting internet freedoms. After persistent protests, several EU members such as poland and the czech republic had suspended acta ratification. Germany has decided not to sign the agreement for the time being pending clarification of open questions.
The EU council of ministers had unanimously adopted the text in december and authorized the states to sign the treaty. The european parliament will also vote on it, de gucht said. Now this process could be delayed: "I assume that the ratification process will be suspended until the judgment of the european court of justice is available." According to the federal ministry of justice, this will delay the process by one to two years.
The digital society association accused the commission of playing for time. "It hopes that the protests against the agreement will be forgotten after a long eugh procedure and that users will no longer go on the road," wrote the organization’s chairman, markus beckedahl, in a release. Acta’s little brother" will be on the table in the course of this year. The revision of the intellectual property rights enforcement directive (IPRED) will bring further tightening of the enforcement of copyright infringements.
De gucht again defended the agreement. Acta will help protect jobs. "Acta will not shut down any websites or restrict freedom of speech or the internet," said the commissioner. EU justice commissioner viviane reding, who is responsible for fundamental rights, emphasized the importance of freedom rights on the internet: "copyright protection can never justify the abolition of freedom of opinion or information."