Recently at a press conference, another party group in the European Parliament came out in rejection of ACTA. This time, it marked a significant milestone, as a majority of the party groups in parliament has now said they will reject it.
It was the liberal group ALDE who declared their intent to reject, yesterday afternoon, European time. According to MEP Christian Engström, who can do the game theory of Parliament in his sleep, this means that there is now a declared majority against ACTA! This majority consists of the Greens (where the Swedish Pirate Party resides), the Left, the Social Democrats, the eurocritical EFD, and the newly-declared liberal group ALDE.
This is tremendously good news, as ACTA as a whole stands or falls in the European Parliament. If the Europarliament rejects ACTA, then it’s a permakill. Boom, headshot. The other side of the coin is that if parliament accepts it, then it is going to shut the doors for very necessary reform for at least a decade, barring a cataclysmic event.
However, this majority against ACTA is not like other majorities, which are predictable and stable. The European Parliament is fairly unique among parliaments, in that the MEPs are neither required (or indeed expected) to toe the party line, and while the party whip exists, it is mostly of the fun kind. A recommendation, if you like. Deviations from the declared party line is not only common but expected in pretty much every vote. So even though the party groups have declared their party lines, this has no effective binding force on the people doing the actual button-pressing, and it’s the tally of them that counts in the end.
This mechanism works both ways, of course. The largest party group, the conservative EPP, is still weakly in favor of ACTA – but even there, many Members of the European Parliament are expected to go against the party line and vote against it.
A draft opinion was introduced in ITRE, the Industry Committee, this Tuesday. Monopoly hawks are trying to frame ACTA as being about the right to property or not (which is hogwash). We need to reinforce that the people of Europe will not stand for this mail-order legislation from monopolists that erode our freedoms of speech and fundamental liberties,
The current committees working on ACTA are JURI, INTA, DEVE, ITRE, and LIBE (those four-letter words are committe names). The time is now to mail the members of these committees and express your feelings about why this piece of bullshit mail-order corporate favor needs to be soundly rejected by a parliament elected by the people. You can use this web page (in Swedish, but understandable) to quickly get the e-mail addresses of the members of the respective committees. Do so now. Right now and over the following weeks. All several million of us. To make sure that all several million really do that, make sure that your friends of those several million are aware of the situation.
It won’t hurt if you tailor your criticism of ACTA to reflect why you’re mailing the respective committee, of course. So JURI is Legal Affairs, INTA is International Trade, DEVE is (third world) Development, ITRE is Industry, and LIBE is Civil Liberties. A message that has an early indication that shows that the message is tailored to its recipient is taken much, much more seriously. Feel free to replace just that particular tailoring between committees and keep the rest of the mail identical.
And in breaking news, I’m just informed that JURI has postponed its vote for a month – the Greens and Social Democrats were against postponing and wanted to kill ACTA outright, but this did not happen. A very very important reminder that it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.
We’re balancing on a very thin line here. And the safety net has been taken out. It’s up to us to guarantee the survival of our own civil liberties, but the good news is that it only takes a small piece of action from several tens of thousands each to make a huge difference. I’m informed from the inside of the European Parliament that the citizens’ pressure on Parliament to reject ACTA has weakened noticeably. Now, exactly now, is the time to ramp it back up.
So mail those committee members now. Today. Right Effing Now.