Under EU Treaty articles 207 and 218, most international agreements need Parliament's consent to enter into force. Equally, all EU countries need to ratify them.
The European Parliament previously asked the Commission to make ACTA documents public and enhance MEPs’ role in negotiating the contents. Now that the final version of ACTA has been agreed, Parliament cannot alter it, only approve or block it. Once Parliament gives consent, the Council would then take a decision to conclude the agreement. All member states would have to ratify for the agreement to come into force.
ACTA lays down an international legal framework for enforcing existing Intellectual Property Rights, targeting counterfeit goods and copyright infringements on the Internet. It lays down obligatory and voluntary enforcement measures to be adopted by countries that have joined the agreement.
Writing on The Times of Malta on the 2nd February, the Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta, Martin Bugelli, said “The agreement is in line with current EU legislation which fully respects the fundamental rights and civil liberties of its citizens, in particular privacy, freedom of expression and data protection. In a nutshell, ACTA acts against large scale infringements very often being indulged in by criminal organisations. It is by no stretch of the imagination a restriction or control of the private use of the internet by citizens.”