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(AFP) The European Commission said Friday it had asked Europe's top court in Luxembourg to declare whether ACTA, a controversial global pact to combat online piracy, would infringe on European citizens' fundamental rights.
Several European governments and lawmakers have voiced reservations about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) while protesters have marched against it in some cities, voicing fears it would curtail Internet freedoms.
"The court's opinion is vital to respond to the wide-ranging concerns voiced by people across Europe on whether ACTA harms our fundamental rights in any way," European Union trade spokesman John Clancy said in a statement.
Twenty-two of the 27 EU states as well as other countries, including the United States and Japan, signed ACTA in January but the treaty has yet to be ratified anywhere.
The EU's executive arm has asked the European Parliament to wait until the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg rules on the matter before voting on ACTA, but the lead negotiator in the legislature has asked fellow lawmakers to reject it.
The commission asked the Luxembourg-based court: "Is the envisaged Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) compatible with the Treaties and in particular with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?"
"We now look forward to Europe's top court to independently clarifying the legality of this agreement," Clancy said.