The result had been widely expected internationally and means that the agreement cannot become law in the European Union or any of its member states. The vote came after a last-ditch attempt by the European People’s Party to have it delayed was shot down.
Digital civil liberties groups have hailed today’s result as a huge victory for citizens, following a concerted campaign to reject the anti-piracy agreement, which aims to enforce intellectual property rights.
[ACTA is an international trade agreement signed by a number of countries, including Canada, for enforcing intellectual property rights. To conform to it Parliament had to change Canadian copyright legislation. That was done last month when the copyright reform bill, C-11, was passed. It was proclaimed June 29.
Parliamentarians were also angry that the deal was largely negotiated in secret and only came to light when an initial draft was released by Wikileaks in 2008. French member of the European Parliament, Kader Arif, responsible for assessing the agreement, resigned from his post in January calling the negotiations a masquerade.
And in April, Europe’s top data privacy watchdog, the European Data Protection Supervisor, criticized the anti-piracy agreement, warning that it could lead to widespread monitoring of the Internet and breaches of individuals’ right to privacy.
As more and more pressure was piled upon Parliament to reject the deal, the European Commission, the body responsible for negotiating the agreement on behalf of the E.U., asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for its opinion and urged the Parliament to wait for a ruling. The European People’s Party on Wednesday morning called a vote on whether to delay a decision on ACTA until after the ECJ ruling, but were out-voted by their colleagues, 420 to 255.
Despite the rejection of the deal outright, the ECJ will still assess the question of whether or not it is compatible with E.U. law, but this is now an academic exercise.
(With an add from Howard Solomon, ComputerWorld Canada)