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European Ombudsman Confirms Refusal of Access to Secret ACTA Documents

Posted in Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law at 3:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Not even the Ombudsman can give access to a process of a conspiracy of foreign companies working to harm European people behind closed doors

EUROPE is under attack by ACTA proponents such as Pedro Valesco-Martins, Paul Rübig, and Luc Pierre Devigne. That last person was recently fired or simply decided to leave. His political career is probably tarnished due to his advocacy and defence of the ACTA, which nobody in Europe seems to actually want. According to this response to Ante Wessels [PDF], the European Ombudsman is of no use here.

This mirrors our recent experiences with the European Ombudsman, which failed to stop American lobbyists from derailing Europe’s interests, let alone show their subversion of European documents/charters. Europe needs an Ombudsman with a strong spine in order for it to be effective and justify its existence.

The FFII has just released the statement below.

Citizens have a clear interest in being informed about ACTA, EU Ombudsman concludes

Brussels, 27 July 2010 — According to the EU Ombudsman, citizens have a clear interest in being informed about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Despite this, he concludes for formal reasons that there was no maladministration by the Council of the European Union when it denied access to the ACTA documents. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) had filed a complaint with the Ombudsman concerning the Council’s refusal to grant access to ACTA documents.

The Ombudsman “agrees that the conclusion of the ACTA may indeed make it necessary for the EU to propose and enact legislation. In that case, the ACTA would constitute the sole or the major consideration underpinning that legislation, and citizens would have a clear interest in being informed about the ACTA.”

“This is a loophole, it is possible to force legislation upon democracies while the public can not scrutinize all documents.”
      –Ante Wessels
While citizens have a clear interest in being informed about ACTA, they do not get access to the ACTA documents. The Ombudsman observes that, although ACTA “could have far-reaching legislative consequences for the EU, this does not mean that the procedure for concluding the ACTA is the same as a legislative procedure, and that the rules governing the latter (including those with regard to public access to documents as set out in the Turco case) apply by analogy to the former.”

FFII analyst Ante Wessels comments: “This is a loophole, it is possible to force legislation upon democracies while the public can not scrutinize all documents. The EU legislation on access to documents needs to be repaired. In the meantime, parliaments should not accept the usage of this loophole. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties stipulates that the history of a treaty plays a role in the interpretation of that treaty. Without full disclosure, parliaments will have to decide on a proposal with unknown aspects, a dark horse.”

Background information

Behind closed doors, the European Union, United States, Japan and other trade partners are negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA will contain new international norms for the enforcement of copyrights, trade mark rights, patents and other exclusive rights.

The FFII endorses the Washington Communique: International Experts Find that Pending Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Threatens Public Interests

Ombudsman decision

FFII information page on ACTA

FFII analysis

Washington Communique

Permanent link to this press release


FFII Office Berlin
Malmöer Str. 6
D-10439 Berlin
Fon: +49-30-41722597
Fax Service: +49-721-509663769
Email: office (at) ffii.org


Ante Wessels
+31 6 100 99 063

About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1,000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data processing.

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