On 9 November we sent the Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade (INTA), Mr Moreira, an open letter in which we protested against an INTA meeting behind closed doors on ACTA. On 10 November Mr Moreira replied.
Below you will find his letter and our reply. Mr Moreira defends the secrecy: the document is, for the time being, confidential. We maintain that secrecy is not compatible with “utmost transparency” (art 103 European Parliament Rules of Procedure).
Mr Moreira mentions a workshop on ACTA planned for March 2012 in the European Parliament, “which will provide yet another public forum to express different views on its various aspects”.
In our 9 November letter we accused the INTA coordinators and secretariat of taking illegal actions. Mr Moreira does not deny the accusations.
10 November 2011:
Dear Mr Wessels,
Thank you for your open letter. However, openness would entail including all the addressees in an open copy, enabling the reply to be sent to all of them. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
As regards, the contents of your letter, I believe there are clarifications that need to be made.
Firstly, the Committee on International Trade has on its agenda for 23 November a presentation of the legal opinion on ACTA by the EP Legal Service. This is not to be confused with an exchange of views on the ACTA file itself, which will certainly be conducted in public.
Secondly, there is a workshop on ACTA planned for March 2012 in the EP, which will provide yet another public forum to express different views on its various aspects.
Thirdly, the opinion of the Legal Service is, for the time being, a confidential document; therefore its presentation is foreseen to take place in an “in camera” part of the Committee meeting.
Fourthly, as to the question whether there is an overriding public interest in disclosure of the opinion under Regulation (EC) No. 1049/2001: under legislation in force and related jurisprudence, it is for the institution concerned to balance the interest to be protected by non-disclosure and public interest in disclosure.
12 November 2011:
Dear Mr Moreira,
We would like to kindly thank you for your answer to our letter.
We agree that the Parliament will have to balance the interest to be protected by non-disclosure and public interest in disclosure. While doing this, the Parliament will have to take into account art 103 of its Rules of Procedure: “1. Parliament shall ensure that its activities are conducted with the utmost transparency, in accordance with the second paragraph of Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union, Article 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.” (emphasis added)
We believe that the utmost transparency regime necessitates that the Parliament publishes the legal service’s opinion prior to the INTA committee meeting.
Our letter was also distributed by way of our press release mailing list. For reasons of privacy, we can not give you the email addresses. We will publish your letter at our blog, http://acta.ffii.org and will give it widespread distribution.