Critics say the ACTA agreement is undemocratic.
They argue that it was negotiated behind closed doors from 2008 by representatives who were not democratically elected.
The deal has been signed by many big EU trading partners like the US, Canada and Japan, as well as 22 members of the bloc. However it has yet to be ratified by anyone.
Its supporters say a law is needed to standardise measures protecting businesses, including pharmaceutical firms whose products can be pirated.
ACTA also calls on signatories to seize fake goods and punish those behind them to safeguard companies hit by counterfeiting.
Business groups say the European Parliament’s rejection means the EU will now be weakened in free trade negotiations.
One key ACTA aim is to stem the tide of illegal downloads and streaming of illegal copies of films and music online. However critics say the deal fails to distinguish between web users who download illegal files for their own entertainment and those seeking to make a living from it.
What is ACTA?
- ACTA stands for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”
- Objective: to set international standards to fight counterfeiting consumer goods and to defend copyright
- initiated in 2007 by 12 states and the European Union
- strongly criticized for being developed behind closed doors; first draft leaked in 2010
- due to the vague formulations in the draft many critics fear strong regulation and surveillance of the internet and hence an interference in the private sphere, civil liberties and basic democratic principles without judicial control
- ACTA has so far been signed by 34 countries, including 22 EU member states
- Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia have not signed the agreement yet, others announced withdrawal of their signatures
- EU Commission website: Informations on ACTA.