Ten days from today, on July 4, the European Parliament will vote on ACTA. This is the end-of-level boss; this is where ACTA lives or dies. We have won in five out of five committees – it is time for one huge final push.
Every Member of European Parliament (MEP) and assistant I have spoken to have said the same thing – the calls and mails from ordinary, concerned citizens have made all the difference. This is not obvious when looking from the outside, but as I walked around in the European Parliament last week, that impression was stronger than I had ever anticipated.
As the final vote approaches, scheduled for July 4, it is easy to let your guard down. But this is when all the trickery happens. The battle of ACTA is not over: it will be over in ten days, but not before.
It can be hard to know what to write to a MEP to make your voice heard. Believe it or not, they are people like you and me, and so, they react like you and me would to mails they receive. You don’t have to be a legal political expert to voice your concern: to the contrary, writing exactly what you feel is often the most effective way to come across.
Of course, “exactly what you feel” can sometimes be counterproductive. We need to remember that we are intruding into somebody else’s job, even if that job is to represent us. Anything aggressive or steamventing will be directly counterproductive, and threats are completely off the table. To the contrary, these people want to do a good job. Take the opportunity to help them be the best MEP they can be.
The European Parliament has voted, and defeated ACTA by a crushing vote of 478 to 39. See more in this post. This was all thanks to the activists – people like you. In other words, don’t send any more mails asking them how to vote. You could mail Parliament to thank them for rejecting ACTA. Or you could send flowers to thank them.
It is time to mail the entire parliament. I have set up a mail alias that resolves to all MEPs: email@example.com. As before, if you prefer mailing them one by one, a mailto link for that is here. Now remember, this will be sent to over 750 legislators. A personal mail describing how you feel and what you think about ACTA is the most effective way, and I would really encourage you to do that rather than use the sample letters straight off. Some MEPs even think that a lot of identical letters arriving means that an automated Denial-of-Service attack is in progress, rather than individual citizens voicing their concerns (hence the P.S. in these sample letters).
Send a mail now.
You can – and should – mail the MEPs even if you don’t live in the European Union. This is a global matter.
If you live in Europe, I suggest you send something like this to all MEPs:
TITLE: Please reject the ACTA treaty in plenary
Dear Member of the European Parliament,
As a citizen of Europe, I urge you to reject the ACTA treaty in the plenary session on July 2-5.
It is a treaty designed to curtail Europe’s civil liberties and our European sovereignty to benefit American corporations and foreign special interests. It is designed to lock out any and all necessary reforms of the copyright and patent structures to benefit European culture and innovation. It is designed in bad faith, in secret, to prevent the next generation of entrepreneurs from displacing the current kings of the hill with better products and services.
Europe should strive for being competitive, not for safeguarding old structures that are already obsolete, and we should be proud of our Enlightenment heritage of respecting civil liberties – no matter if they are exercised on- or offline.
Let the scheduled date of the vote, July 4, be a date when we celebrate Europe’s political independence from American special interests. We need to feel and establish that independence – and that dignity.
P.S.: I have understood that some MEPs have voiced concerns that mails like this one would be part of an automated process, and even regarded it as a form of attack, in that sense. I want to underscore that this mail is not part of an automated process. I may be using a sample letter to voice my concerns, but the concerns are no less real just because I paste somebody else’s words for my concerns into my own e-mail program.
I am not an attack – I am a European voter, pleading for my representatives to represent me against US businesses. (For the technically inclined, the mail headers will show that the identical copies you may have received of this sample letter were all sent manually, one by one, by different people.)
If you live in the United States, a slightly different message would be appropriate, tailored to the fact that it is the US special interests who are pushing this treaty, rigging the game in the world just like they have been rigging it inside the United States.
Again, remember, this is just an example. Rewrite or adapt to your words and liking.
TITLE: Please reject the ACTA treaty
Honored Member of the European Parliament,
I am a citizen of the United States of America. Trade representatives of my country have been pushing a treaty for so-called free trade and anti-counterfeiting across the world, including onto Europe. This ACTA treaty is not about free trade, nor about counterfeiting. It is about ensuring that hardworking entrepreneurs in other countries don’t get to compete with American corporations, by creating lopsided deals and terms.
I believe in the American Dream. I believe that if you compete with better products and services, the hard work will reward you, but also that you don’t get any special favors because of birth, gender, or the color of your skin. I believe that anybody can and should be able to create a good life for themselves through hard work and being proud of what you accomplish.
Sadly, lately it has become obvious that this game is rigged. A very small group of special interests in the United States has rigged the game in their favor. It is rigged within the United States, and in the world as a whole as well. ACTA is part of this scheme. This is not what I stand for. These U.S. trade representatives who try to get to the top of the ladder before you in Europe, only to then kick away the ladder, are not people I have elected, nor given my consent to represent me.
This rigged game is not America, and I will not let this small group of special interests soil the name of my country and my dreams. ACTA is not in Europe’s interest, nor in anybody’s, except for these few special corporate interests that are trying to legislate their place at the top of the food chain. Nobody has that right. It is up to you, as a legislator, to put the foot down and assert that nobody indeed has this right.
ACTA lives or dies globally with the vote in the European Parliament. I understand the ACTA vote in plenary is scheduled for July 4. I urge you, as a citizen of the United States of America and of the world, to reject it. Europe and America should be the best of friends on equal terms – and not on terms of trickery and exploitation. That is not what I stand for.
On July 4, we celebrate our Day of Independence from European special interests, in memory of a decision made a little over two centuries ago. I would be honored and proud if you would consider reciprocating. Please reject ACTA.
United States of America
Finally, if you live in neither the US nor the EU, I suggest something along these lines:
TITLE: Please reject the ACTA treaty
Honored Member of the European Parliament,
I am a citizen of [your country], and I am following the ACTA process in the European Union closely. You may have heard from negotiators claiming to represent me by name of my country. I wish to make clear that they do not represent me: the drafting of ACTA has not been handled by people I have elected, nor given my consent to. Rather, this has been driven by old and obsolete industries who want ACTA to legislate their place in their market, legislate it against the citizens and entrepreneurs of the world.
In this, I stand with the citizens of Europe who have rallied against the treaty. This is a global and important matter.
I urge you to reject ACTA, not just for the citizens of Europe, but for those of the world, including me. It locks in an old regime of industries and prevents necessary rejuvenation: it is the industries of the 1970s and 1980s that are fighting against the entrepreneurs who would take their place in a market economy. Rather than competing with better products and services, they go this route in desperation. Also, in this fight, the world’s civil liberties are happily sacrificed by the old monopolistic industries, clamoring for more monopolies and harsher enforcement. The payment comes from us all in forms of our fundamental freedoms – not just as citizens, but as builders of the global economy.
ACTA lives or dies globally with the consent of the European Parliament. The world is watching – the next generation of citizens and entrepreneurs is watching. I ask you to vote for the future, rather than the past. Reject ACTA. Vote for the European Parliament to withhold its consent.
That’s it. This is the final ramp-up. In ten days, it’s the moment of truth in the roll call vote in the European Parliament’s session in Strasbourg. If we manage to defeat ACTA there, we can make it into a major turning point in the overall war for net liberty.
Let July 4 be the day we celebrate Europe taking a stand for independence against American special interests, and inspire the world to follow!