By Martin Banks - 14th February 2012
This agreement is going in the wrong direction
Senior MEP Rebecca Harms has called for a controversial international copyright agreement to be scrapped.
Pressure on the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) has risen after public demonstrations in several European cities at the weekend.
Harms has added to the furore by calling for the agreement to be abandoned.
Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Harms, the joint leader of the Greens/EFA group in parliament, said, "This agreement is going in the wrong direction and it should be scrapped."
Her comments come in the wake of similar doubts about the agreement expressed by parliament's president Martin Schulz at the weekend.
On German television network ARD, Schulz said of the treaty, "I don't find it good in its current form."
Schulz said that the balance between copyright protection and the individual rights of internet users "is only very inadequately anchored in this agreement".
Supporters of the agreement insist it will not create new laws and is necessary to standardise copyright protection measures.
ACTA is an international treaty aiming to standardise copyright protection measures. It seeks to curb trade of counterfeited physical goods, including copyrighted material online.
Preventative measures include possible imprisonment and fines. Critics argue that it will stifle freedom of expression on the internet.
ACTA has been signed by 22 member states but is yet to be ratified by parliament.
The international trade committee will hold its first discussion on the deal on 29 February and parliament will stage a public workshop on 1 March.
Addressing a news conference during the plenary in Strasbourg, Harms, a German deputy, said she favoured efforts to combat counterfeiting.
But she added, "What we need first is a thorough debate on the questions of authors' rights and ACTA is not the answer."
British S&D member David Martin, recently appointed parliament's rapporteur on the issue, has called for a "facts-based" discussion before any decisions are made.
In their news conferences, Guy Verhofstadt, the ALDE leader, and EPP leader Joseph Daul, both declined to comment on the deal, saying they were awaiting group meetings on the issue.