Brussels, 13 January 2009 -- The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) has filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against the EU Council for deliberately obstructing access to Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) documents. As stated by an other participant in the negotiations, the EU has agreed to keep ACTA drafts secret. This way the EU hinders the proper application of Regulation 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents. The FFII asks for immediate publication of the documents.
Public interest organisations are concerned ACTA may limit access to medicines, limit access to the internet, give patent trolls free reign and harm the most innovative sectors of the economy.
According to a New Zealand government website, participants in the ACTA negotiations "have agreed that the draft final text will be made public at the end of negotiations before governments consider signing."
FFII analyst Ante Wessels comments: "This implies that the EU has agreed to keep earlier draft texts secret. Regulation 1049/2001 for public access to documents does list some exceptions to transparency, but those exceptions must be interpreted and applied strictly. Making agreements to keep texts secret goes much further than allowed. The Council deliberately obstructs access to ACTA documents."
As a solution the FFII proposes that the documents have to be made accessible. The EU may also withdraw from the ACTA negotiations.
Background information: European Parliament resolution 18 December 2008
"28. Takes the view that the public interest in disclosure of ACTA preparatory drafts, including progress reports, and of the Commission's negotiating mandate should not be overridden by Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents(19) , and urges the Council to enforce Article 255 of the EC Treaty in such a way as to ensure the widest possible access to documents, provided that the necessary security measures are taken as required by data-protection law;"
Open letter by more than 100 public interest organizations (You will find more information here on concerns that ACTA may undermine access to low-cost generic medicines.)
About the FFII
The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in over fifty countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.