The day before the EU’s International Trade committee (INTA) recommended that the European Parliament should reject ACTA, the EU commissioner with responsibility for the treaty, Karel De Gucht, had given a speech to its members, trying to win them over. Although it was short, it turns out to be highly revealing about the European Commission’s future ACTA strategy. Here’s what he said:
If you decide for a negative vote before the European Court rules, let me tell you that the Commission will nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do. A negative vote will not stop the proceedings before the Court of Justice.
That is, whatever happens next week, the European Commission will wait for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to rule on whether ACTA is compatible with EU law. If it is found to be incompatible, De Gucht admits that rather than accept this ruling, the European Commission will try to find some trick to circumvent it:
If the Court questions the conformity of the agreement with the Treaties we will assess at that stage how this can be addressed.
This implicitly confirms that the referral was simply a way to buy time, rather than an honest question about ACTA’s legality.