There were two ACTA events yesterday that provided the U.S. and European perspectives on latest round and future developments. EC Commissioner Karel de Gucht appeared before a European Parliament committee and provided some details on the most recent round along some pointed criticism of the U.S. position on some key issues. Some of the key points raised during de Gucht's appearance:
- The EU language on Internet may serve as compromise on that chapter
- On border issues, consensus may only reachable on basis of the "lowest common denominator"
- The U.S. position on ACTA transparency is "counter-productive"
- de Gucht believes India and Brazil are using ACTA to score political points on the generic medicines issue
- Inclusion of designs and geographic indications in ACTA is a "red line" issue. If they are not included, the EU must question the benefit of the agreement. De Gucht argues the U.S. is using trademarks for same purpose as geographic indications and it is "hypocrisy" to exclude from the agreement. He emphasized the EU "cannot swallow this" and that this will be a major point of discussion at the next round of talks.
- Next round of talks will be held in July in Washington. At least two more rounds are required rest of the year. There is a fundamental split between negotiating parties on scope. He does not expect a breakthrough in the Washington round.
Meanwhile in Washington, USTR's Stan McCoy was part of a panel on ACTA. McCoy noted that there was some progress on ACTA in Lucerne, but not as much the U.S. had hoped. He said that the U.S. delegation was prepared to stay for further discussions but that others were not. As for the issue of transparency, McCoy said the delegations needed "to strike the balance" in working on ACTA and dealing with stakeholders. He suggested that the April text reflected the issues that are still "out there" on ACTA.
McCoy was asked why ACTA is even needed if the participating countries have similar rules already and ACTA may include some flexibility for compliance. His response: the U.S. can't do it alone and need co-operation from other governments. He summed up by saying that ACTA is needed for international leadership, cooperation, and a stronger baseline of enforcement.
The Washington event video is posted below. The EU event video can be accessed for the next six days here.