ALDE members have learned that the EPP group plans to request a secret ballot on the key vote on ACTA (anti-counterfeiting trade agreement) to be held tomorrow (21st June) in Parliament's international trade committee, where opinion remains sharply divided.
Niccolò Rinaldi (Italia dei Valori,Italy), ALDE lead MEP on the issue is highly critical of this attempt to hide from public scrutiny:
"Arguably ACTA has generated more public interest and feeling than any other international legal text that has come before this House. It is scandalous and unethical for MEPs to hide their voting behaviour on such a prominent issue from public view. They are elected to represent the citizens, not avoid them. The EPP should be ashamed of themselves if they insist on going through with this procedural trick. We intend to request, on behalf of ALDE that, instead of a secret ballot, we hold a roll call vote so that each and every MEP can be held accountable for their political choices."
Marietje Schaake (D66,Netherlands) who will be voting against ACTA tomorrow with her ALDE colleagues, also denounced the intended action of the EPP members:
"If the conservatives do indeed ask for a secret vote on ACTA, they show the ultimate disregard for the millions of European citizens who have spoken out against ACTA and in favour of internet freedom. Such a move would only serve to reinforce the very lack of transparency which has been criticised in the conduct of the ACTA negotiations. As Liberals, we believe that transparency is essential, especially for public office holders and parliamentarians who should conduct their business openly. The ALDE group remains firmly opposed to this agreement and will vote to reject it."
"I would very much regret any move to hold tomorrow's vote in secret, especially in light of the huge public interest in this agreement. Doing so would be to shoot ourselves in the foot and open the Parliament up to justified but entirely unnecessary criticism. I hope the EPP will change their minds."