Brussels, 04 April 2012 - Today, the European Commission has taken the next step in the important process of referring the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). By agreeing on the legal submission to be put before the ECJ, the Commission aims to respond to the wide-ranging concerns voiced by people across Europe on what ACTA is about and whether it harms fundamental rights in any way.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht stated, "I am very pleased that we are now one step closer to ensuring clarity on ACTA. As I said when I first proposed this action in late February, I believe the European Commission has a responsibility to provide our democratically elected parliamentary representatives and the public at large with the most detailed and accurate information available. Most of the criticism against ACTA expressed by people across Europe focused on the potential harm it could have on our fundamental rights. So, a referral will allow for Europe’s top court to independently clarify the legality of this agreement." De Gucht went on to say, "The European Union is founded on respect for the rule of law. Considering that tens of thousands of people have voiced their concerns about ACTA, it is appropriate to give our highest independent judicial body the time to deliver its legal opinion on this agreement. This is an important input to European public and democratic debate. I therefore hope that the European Parliament will respect the European Court of Justice and await its opinion before determining its own position on ACTA".
The legal submission agreed by the College of Commissioners today is a broad legal question which will allow the European Court of Justice a detailed examination of whether ACTA is in line with European Fundamental Rights such as the freedom of expression and information or data protection and the right to property including that of intellectual property. The question which has been agreed upon unanimously is: "Is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) compatible with the European Treaties, in particular with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?"
-ACTA is an international trade agreement that will help countries work together to tackle more effectively large-scale Intellectual Property Rights violations. Citizens will benefit from ACTA because it will help protect Europe's raw material - innovations and ideas (Full text of ACTA in all EU languages)
-Europe's economy can only remain competitive if it can rely on innovation, creativity, quality, and brand exclusivity. These are some of our main comparative advantages on the world market, and they are all protected by Intellectual Property Rights. As Europe is losing billions of Euros annually through counterfeit goods flooding our markets, protecting Intellectual Property Rights means protecting jobs in the EU. It also means consumer safety and secure products.
-The EU's national customs authorities have registered that counterfeit goods entering the EU have tripled between 2005 and 2010.
-Statistics published by the European Commission
in July 2011 show a tremendous upward trend in the number of shipments suspected of violating IPR. Customs in 2010 registered around 80,000 cases, a figure that has almost doubled since 2009. More than 103 million fake products were detained at the EU external border
For further information:
A dedicated website provides more information on ACTA including the text of the agreement in all EU languages:
On the decision to refer ACTA to the European Court of Justice, 22 February 2012:
John Clancy (+32 2 295 37 73)
Helene Banner (+32 2 295 24 07)