European Parliament does not possess Commission’s negotiators’ notes on ACTA

The European Parliament Register informed us the Parliament does not possess the EU Commission’s negotiators’ notes on ACTA. This is remarkable. Article 218.10 TFEU reads: “The European Parliament shall be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure.” The negotiators’ notes play a role in interpreting ACTA. The Commission didn’t fully inform the Parliament, if the Register’s information is correct.

In March, Pedro Velasco Martins, EU Commission ACTA negotiator, answered FFII questions on ACTA. He wrote: “The EU has not decided yet whether it will publish its negotiators’ notes.” This suggests that these notes do not fall under the confidentiality agreement, and can be published. The Commission did not publish the notes yet. And according to the Parliament’s Register, the Commission did not send them to Parliament either.

In an earlier email, 28 July 2011, the Register wrote: “As you know the Parliament was not party in the negotiations. It is up to the Commission to decide whether it will publish its negotiations’ notes”. This left it unclear whether the Parliament possessed the negotiators’ notes, the FFII filed a confirmatory application.

The Register released three documents regarding the discussion in Parliament on how and when to ask a European Court of Justice Opinion on ACTA. (pdf1, pdf2, pdf3) It can be done now.

There still is no trail for the International Trade Committee decisions on ACTA. To be continued.

Register’s email 17 August 2011

Register’s email 17 August 2011

Dear Mr Wessels,

In reply to your requests/questions:

Re: 1

Perhaps we should have included the following main elements in bold:

The right to submit a confirmatory application only applies in the event of a total or partial refusal. We did not mention the possibility of a confirmatory application because we did not send you a formal refusal. We sent you the link where to find certain documents requested or we informed you that other documents either did not exist or the Parliament does not possess copy of them.

We assumed that this was obvious but apparently not. In our reply we referred to the Commission because only the Commission is in possession of its own negotiators’ notes. Parliament was not party in the negotiations and it has of course no copy of those notes.

Re: 2

It is not a question of semantics. You speak about two different things. There is, as explained in our previous emails, a distinction between “in camera” meetings and public meetings. The Coordinators’ meetings are “in camera”. In consequence the meeting documents distributed to the Coordinators (e.g. background notes) in order to prepare their deliberations are for their exclusive use. However, the results of the coordinators’ meetings are public because their decisions are endorsed by the relevant committee and included in the minutes of the committee.

Re: 3

As you will understand, it is not within the remit of our Unit to follow committee work. As a result, we are not aware of the exact state of play regarding every procedure-file in each committee. Therefore we can not reply to all your specific requests for information. We can only provide existing documents recorded in one of the EP document management systems.

Should you require further information about specific committee issues, we would advise you to contact directly the relevant committee-secretariat. This is so as to avoid putting us in the position of a go-between, which can lead to misunderstandings. In this particular case you could contact the INTA secretariat.

Re: 4

We refer again to our reply of 28 July to your request of 8 July

Points 1.2.3. of this request: We have indicated the best link to access the minutes of all parliamentary committees, including coordinators’ decisions endorsed by the relevant committees and records of items examined “in camera”.

Point 4: We had sent a copy of the letter containing the request for a legal opinion of the Legal Service. And we can inform you that the Legal Service has not delivered its opinion yet.

Point 5: We have not identified any records of an EP request to the Court of Justice for an opinion on ACTA. The only identified documents related to this question are the three letters attached. As for the letter signed by Ms Harms, it appears there is no reply for the time being recorded in the relevant electronic filing system.

Point 6: See above under Re: 1

Kind regards,

Transparency – Public Access to Documents

European Parliament

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