Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-04-23-Speech-1-129"

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". Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to thank the Commissioner for his kind words about this report. We are coming to this parliamentary vote in the comforting position of having received very substantial support for the directive at the vote in the Committee on Legal Affairs. That is why I hope that a large majority will support this compromise, because powerful interests and lobbies are now hoping that the European Parliament will not do anything. I believe, however, that it would harm our image and damage us politically if Parliament were to throw up its hands at such a devastating crime as counterfeiting and say that Europe could not do anything to fight it. In the past, Parliament has been in the forefront in developing the single market and political Europe, and I am convinced that it will be there again this time. This important directive is at last coming to the end of its legislative process, and I should first of all like to thank all those who have devoted their energies in recent months to a passionate and, in my view, extremely useful debate, starting with the shadow rapporteurs and all the staff, without whom it would not have been possible to address such complex subjects. Much has been said about this directive; some of the comments have been well founded while others have missed the point, not least because these are highly complex subjects. I believe, therefore, that it is important to make it clear what we are talking about. This is a directive against organised crime and in the end, I must emphasise, against organised crime in both its traditional form and the form that it has recently been adopting. It is, then, a directive against the damage that crime does to Europe through the counterfeiting of goods and the infringement of intellectual property rights. During these months, many Members have asked me why we have to harmonise. My answer is that organised crime has long been a global activity that knows no borders and that can count on vast resources. The law, in contrast, is fragmented into many, sometimes contradictory legal systems, and is therefore the weaker for it. It has been calculated that over the last 10 years the volume of counterfeit goods has risen by 1 600%, and I believe that Europe needs to do something, because we are talking about a vast market and very real, material things, such as toys, clothes, shoes, food, cosmetics, chemicals, gastronomic products with false designations of origin, spectacles, compact discs, DVDs and other things, in other words all goods that European consumers buy every day. As I have said, this activity causes enormous damage. It damages Europe’s industries, because of course counterfeiting changes all the most basic rules of the market and competition, and it harms workers, because of course those who produce counterfeit goods do so with complete disregard for the laws that protect the rights of the people making them, and because the counterfeit markets resulting from these criminal activities cause recession and unemployment. Counterfeiting is said to have put 125 000 people out of work in Europe over the last ten years. As a result, it damages the economy because of tax evasion, and it harms consumers, because here in Parliament we spend many hours writing regulations to protect European citizens but not fighting effectively against counterfeiting, and we have no means of enforcing these regulations. One form that I regard as particularly serious is the counterfeiting of brands of generic medicines, which are often marketed in developing countries, and I am delighted that the executive secretary of the World Health Organization’s anti-counterfeiting task force has spoken out in favour of the report, since it specifically refers to the health risks and rates the counterfeiting of medicines as being extremely serious. I therefore believe that we have to go ahead with this. I think the text of the directive introduces some important new points even compared with the Commission’s text, and that we have reached a positive compromise. I think it is important that the scope of the directive has been made clearer and also restricted, by excluding patents, for example, for which civil law remains the most suitable instrument for resolving disputes. Although this is a highly controversial text, my view is that we must not stop and that we cannot escape from the reality of these arguments. By harmonising our criminal measures we are taking a leap forwards in really developing the European single market, which is certainly helped by rules, but also by provisions like these which prevent the rules from being disregarded all the time. Acting at this level therefore aids and strengthens Europe as a political entity, but most of all it strengthens the idea of a Europe that is useful to its citizens."@en1

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