Reports that negotiations on the controversial agreement have ended alarmed MEPs, who have called on the Commission to explain the matter as soon as possible.
"If the agreement is indeed concluded, we demand from the Commission to present the final text of the negotiation to the European Parliament as soon as it is procedurally possible," reads a joint statement from Greek Socialist MEP and European Parliament Vice-President Stavros Lambrinidis, French Socialist MEP Francoise Castex, Czech centre-right MEP Zuzana Roithova and German liberal MEP Alexander Alvaro.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been mired in controversy from the off as policymakers and industry worry that it will give governments a blank cheque to write draconian anti-counterfeiting laws that endanger citizens' fundamental freedoms.
MEPs have hit out hard at the Commission for keeping the official ACTA documents out of their reach and have warned they will not give the agreement their approval – a prerequisite under the EU's Lisbon Treaty – without enough time to study the text.
"We […] call the Commission not to proceed to any provisional application of the agreement before the European Parliament has the chance to express its informed opinion on the issue," Lambrinidis continued.
A done deal?
The European Commission announced late on Friday evening that the Tokyo ACTA negotiations had "concluded successfully".
'[ACTA] will include state-of-the-art provisions on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, including provisions on civil, criminal, and border enforcement measures, robust cooperation mechanisms among ACTA Parties to assist in their enforcement efforts, and establishment of best practices for effective IPR enforcement," according to a statement from the EU executive.
Activists warn that the negotiations are not over and that officialdom is just trying to fool national governments into adopting laws made outside their legislatures.
"The aim of this premature announcement of a deal is of course to install the impression that ACTA is a done deal, that parliaments have no other choice than to accept it without any possibility to modify it," according to Internet freedom NGO La Quadrature du Net.
In addition, some news reports over the weekend speak of progress but not of a done deal. According to US officials, countries have allegedly agreed on the main principles of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
The negotiations were "almost across the finish line," according to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, speaking on Saturday.
Commission officials say the entire ACTA text will be available for public eyes this week.
Speaking to EurActiv, MEPs claimed that the Commission will put pressure on the European Parliament to approve the text without having enough time to understand its full implications.
In separate talks on an EU proposal to share passenger data with countries outside the bloc, MEPs say they were only given half an hour to read the text and give a formal opinion.