The European Parliament's Trade Committee today voted against the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement (ACTA) as a recommendation for the whole Parliament to reject the deal during its next plenary session in July.
UK Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder commented after the hotly contested vote:
"Liberal Democrat MEPs take the issue of copyright and counterfeiting very seriously as property rights - including intellectual property rights - form the basis of our economy and also help prevent dangerous counterfeit products, such as medicines, electronics and toys from entering our markets.
"However, the ACTA negotiations have been marked from the beginning by an unnecessary lack of transparency and wider consultation and a potential attack on the fundamental civil rights of individual internet users. On balance, concerns with regard to civil rights outweigh the limited benefits of ACTA, to which even major countries known for their counterfeit products - such as China - have not subscribed.
Ms Bearder also expressed disappointment that UK Conservative MEPs tabled an amendment to delay the vote on ACTA until after a ruling by the European Court of Justice on its legality. Once this amendment was rejected, the Conservatives unsuccessfully voted in favour of ratifying ACTA.
"It is a great shame that we could not count on Conservative MEPs to reject ACTA. It is up to Liberal Democrats in the UK and in Europe to defend our fundamental civil rights. That's why we voted against ACTA."
The Trade Committee rejected ACTA with 19 votes against the agreement and 12 votes in favour. There were no abstentions.
The amendment to delay the vote until after the European Court of Justice would decide on the pending court case was rejected by the same margin: 19 votes against a delay, 12 in favour and no abstention
Catherine Bearder's article on why Liberal Democrat MEPs reject ACTA: