Bulgarian Ex EU Commissioner Denies ACTA Involvement

Politics » DOMESTIC | February 13, 2012, Monday // 11:53
Bulgarian Ex EU Commissioner Denies ACTA Involvement: Bulgarian Ex EU Commissioner Denies ACTA Involvement Former EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva rejects accusations that as EU Commissioner and later she took part in ACTA negotiations. Photo by BGNES

Former EU Commissioner on Consumer Rights, Meglena Kuneva, has firmly denied recent reports that she had participated in ACTA negotiations and has involved Bulgaria in it.

Mass protest rallies against the controversial international Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement, ACTA, were organized in 15-16 Bulgarian cities and in 150 cities across Europe Saturday.

Kuneva, who also chairs her recently launched civic movement, dubbed "Bulgaria for Citizens," has written the following on her Facebook page:

"I am restoring the Three-Way Coalition; stealing Slavi Binev's party and signing ACTA – all this according to people with whom I was forced to work during my presidential campaign. I expect to read tomorrow that I eat children for breakfast."

According to the ex Commissioner, who also ran for President in October 2011, and ended third in the race, the energy of her civic movement had scared the future coalition partners between the ruling, center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, and the left-wing, opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and they have re-launched the "slander factory."

Kuneva declares her outrage from the new lies about her, aiming at diverting the responsibility for the signing of ACTA from the current Bulgarian cabinet and rejects accusations that as EU Commissioner and later she took part in ACTA negotiations.

She voices conviction that internet is a free space and must remain such and any activity that could lead to violations of basic human rights must be carefully considered in order to not allow such violations.

A check of the official website of the European Commission shows that when the most intense ACTA negotiations took place and key texts were prepared - between January and October 2010, the Bulgarian cabinet had not even once voiced a stand on the matter.

The team of EU Commissioners had examined the agreement in June 2011 and a second time in October 2011, and never before that, again without Bulgaria having an official position.

In 2010 and 2011, Kuneva was no longer Bulgaria's EU Commissioner.

"The Bulgarian cabinet not only did not show any interest in ACTA, but did not even find it necessary to discuss the subject. It must be clear that the possible withdrawal of Bulgaria will be due only to the clearly stated position of local internet users and their negative reactions. The protests in Bulgaria are against internet spying, violation of personal rights, and the lack of dialogue with the government, which makes important decisions without an open public debate," Kuneva writes, stressing that as Commissioner she always protected consumers' rights and had managed to include the notion "internet consumer" in the total Strategy of Consumers in EU.

On January 26, the Bulgarian government signed in Tokyo the international ACTA agreement, vowing to make downloading content similar to forgery of brands.

The agreement was sealed by Bulgarian ambassador to Japan Lyubomir Todorov, based on a decision by the Bulgarian cabinet taken hastily on January 11.

22 out of the 27 EU member states have signed ACTA, along with countries such as the USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Switzerland.

Among EU Member States, Germany, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovakia and the Netherlands have postponed their signing.

ACTA, abbreviation for Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, mandates that signatory countries implement legislation to criminalize certain types of downloading content such as music and movies, from sites not sanctioned by rights owners, such as torrent trackers.

According to the agreement, such actions will be classified as similar to counterfeiting, and will carry heavier sanctions, including confiscation.

The treaty also will require Internet providers to provide information about the traffic of their users.

In order to become effective in Bulgaria, ACTA must first be ratified by the European Parliament and then by the Bulgarian Parliament, which is expected to happen no earlier than June.

Transcripts from the meeting of the Council of Ministers from January 11 reveal that it had been Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov, who had made the proposal.

Ever since the signing, ACTA stirred much discontent in Bulgaria, both because it had not been discussed by the cabinet and because the public had been kept entirely in the dark about the decision to sign it, until prominent Bulgarian bloggers and lawyers stirred large-scale noise about it. They lashed out at the signing of ACTA over their belief the agreement will bind countries to install legal regulations that excessively and unduly broadly penalize Internet users.

At the beginning of February, two Bulgarian NGOs – of Internet users and Internet service providers reached a handshake deal with the government in which Prime Minister Boyko Borisov promises that Bulgaria will ratify the ACTA with reservations.

Supporters of the treaty argue that the measures are necessary to clamp down on growing levels of piracy.

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Tags: sofia, marches, protests, rallies, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov, proposal, ACTA, Internet, piracy, Japan, counterfeit, forgery, download, music, movies, torrent, European parliament, GERB, NGOs, three-way coalition, Slavi Binev, Meglena Kuneva, National Movement for Stability and Prosperity, BSP, GERB, Bulgarian Socialist Party, European Commissioner, consumer rights, civic movement, Bulgaria for Citizens, Simeon Saxe-Coburg, liberal, EU, Siim Kallas, citizens, elections, political project, political party, Germany
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