Ambitious US bargaining over Buy America

Spiegel Online quotes an internal document of the German Ministry of Economics on the TTIP negotiations (round 8):
Im Bereich der öffentlichen Beschaffung hat die US-Seite weitere Zugeständnisse mit der Aufnahme von Diskussionen zu Investitionsschutz / ISDS verknüpft. (In the area of public procurement the US side made further concessions conditional on the start of deliberations on investor protection /ISDS). The background is that the US negotiator side is very reluctant to revoke anti-free trade procurement policies like the Berry Amendments and Buy American, and has little support no support whatsoever from Congress for that. A removal of the enforcement layer ISDS is now used as a bargaining chip to stifle negotiation progress on public procurement. Given that ISDS is just an enforcement component it seems tricky to bargain over the substantive items such as public procurement.

EU published 2 year old TiSA mandate

Today the EU declassified a two year old mandate of the member states to the European Commission to negotiate the services agreement TiSA. These mandates are drafted by the European Commission and approved by the member states in the European Council and authorise the European Commission to negotiate with third countries. The declassification shows that data flows are among the negotiated subject matters, a controversial item in a post-Snowden world. The agreement shall contain new or enhanced regulatory disciplines as compared to
GATS based on proposals by the parties. To that end, the negotiations should aim at including inter alia regulatory disciplines concerning transparency, domestic regulation, state-owned enterprises, telecommunication services, computer related services, e-commerce, cross-border data transfers, financial services, postal and courier services, international maritime transport services, government procurement for services and subsidies.

The H word

The European Commission published a textual proposal for the TTIP talks that includes the H-Word. Previously the European Commission had argued that (legal) harmonisation was not among the objective of the agreement: “Given the efficiency of their respective systems, the intention is not to strive towards harmonisation, but to identify a number of specific issues where divergences will be addressed.” We mocked this on the FFII ACTA blog. In the Commission’s tabled text proposal it reads:
When a regulatory exchange has been initiated pursuant to Article 9 with regard
to a planned or existing regulatory act at central level, a Party may propose to the
other Party a joint examination of possible means to promote regulatory
compatibility, including through the following methods:
a) Mutual recognition of equivalence of regulatory acts, in full or in part, based on evidence that the relevant regulatory acts achieve equivalent outcomes as regards the fulfilment of the public policy goals pursued by both Parties;
b) Harmonisation of regulatory acts, or of their essential elements, through:
i.Application of existing international instruments or, if relevant instruments do not exist, cooperation between the Parties to promote the development of a new international instrument;
ii. Approximation of rules and procedures on a bilateral basis or
c) Simplification of regulatory acts in line with shared legal or administrative
principles and guidelines.

Greens/EFA envoked RoP36 on ACTA

The Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament officially envoked 36 of the Rules of Procedure concerning ACTA. In a letter to the Parliament President Jerzy Buzek from October 2011 group leaders Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit officially envoked RoP 36(2). With Human rights groups like Amnesty International rallying against the ACTA treaty that call makes a lot of sense. Rule 36 : Respect for the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

1. Parliament shall in all its activities fully respect fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Article 41 – The Ultimate Answer

Your nation has already signed the agreement and ratification is pending. You don’t get anything from unprofessional apologies from diplomates who signed ACTA. Simply request your  government to file an Article 41 note. The Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Democracy, The Internet, and Everything is 41. ARTICLE 41: WITHDRAWAL
A Party may withdraw from this Agreement by means of a written notification to the Depositary.

Smoking gun on ACTA Criminal Sanctions

We discovered a smoking gun on the criminal sanctions aspect of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). A declassified document reveals that the Commission made proposals and fundamentally steered the negotiations on criminal sanctions in ACTA for which no corresponding EU harmonisation exists. There is no “Acquis” element on criminal enforcement of intellectual property rights, yet. Criminal sanctions in ACTA were formally negotiated by the Council “Presidency” on behalf of the EU member states. The findings reveal that the European Commission was much stronger involved than it previously admitted.

With ACTA, manipulation returns to the European Parliament

A few years ago, an amendment making sure that parallel importation was not criminalised in the EU disappeared after it was adopted in the European Parliament. This summer, the Chairman of the International Trade committee (INTA), Mr Vital Moreira, rewrote a question the INTA committee asked the Parliament’s Legal Services regarding ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). The INTA Chairman among others things left out a reference regarding parallel importation. Up until now, no member of the INTA committee questioned the behavior of the INTA Chairman. (See update below.)

While prominent legal experts conclude ACTA is not compatible with EU law, EU Treaties and fundamental rights, MEPs (Members of the Parliament) expect the Legal Services to conclude ACTA is fine.

Document Freedom Day Award in Berlin, Germany

On the 30th of March, 2011, the FFII and FSFE awarded the DFD Award for its use of Open Standards in broadcasting content. Berlin and Hamburg Fellows joined the event to celebrate the important role of in spreading Document Freedom, eat a piece of pie, and have a chat about Freedom and Open Source Software and Open Document formats. Press review for the Berlin event:

2011-03-30 DE Heise: wegen Ogg-Theora-Unterstützung ausgezeichnet
2011-03-30 EN The H: receives Document Freedom Day award from FSFE and FFII
2011-03-30 DE Golem: FFII und FSFE ehren für Inhalte im Ogg-Theora-Format
2011-03-30 DE Readers Edition: Die Netzversion der Tagesschau ist “offen”
2011-03-30 DE Linux Community: Eine Torte für offene Formate FSFE und FFII zeichnen ARD für freie Formate bei Online-Tagesschau aus
2011-03-30 DE Linux Magazin: FFII und FSFE zeichnen ARD für Einsatz von Ogg aus
2011-03-30 DE Offene Standards: Singapur, München, Tagesschau und der Rest der Welt
2011-03-30 DE Prolinux: Auszeichnungen für den Einsatz offener Standards für und München

EU ACTA negotiators’ notes still secret

Pedro Velasco Martins, EU ACTA negotiator, today answered FFII’s 30 December 2010 questions on the initialling of ACTA. ACTA was initialed on 25 November 2010, through an electronic procedure. The Commission chief-negotiator initialled all the pages of the text, including the criminal measures. The Commission added negotiators’ notes in the course of the negotiations. The EU has not decided yet whether it will publish its negotiators’ notes.

Dutch trade minister: ACTA not superior to European or national law

Will ACTA be binding on the US, EU, France, Romania, the Netherlands and Singapore? Confusion over whether the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is binding is mounting. On 1 December 2010, Dutch Trade Minister Verhagen said in a parliamentary commission meeting: “It has never come up to implement ACTA in the Netherlands. It so happens that ACTA is not superior to European or national law.” This is a remarkable statement.