Counterfeiting and copyright piracy is a drain on the economy in Europe and worldwide, and virtually no industry escapes this illegal activity. It is responsible for damaging legitimate business, and especially, from the point of view of the IMCO Committee, it is a source of consumer detriment.
The problem is serious and is growing more serious. Yet counterfeit and pirated goods continue to be freely available within the Internal Market.
To combat counterfeit and piracy we have to
Firstly, enhance enforcement, helping Customs authorities to detect it and make agreements to undermine counterfeiting and piracy at the point where infringement originates. Action is also required to keep the Internet from becoming an even more prominent distribution channel for counterfeit and pirated products by strengthening remedies to more effective redress.
Secondly, we need public awareness campaigns. Too often consumers are unaware of the scale and repercussions of the problem. Consumers are put at risk of their lives from dangerous products, especially fake medicines. Government-led campaigns should increasingly focus at the social costs of counterfeit and piracy, such as health and safety.
Thirdly, we need more data gathering, assessment and research. Comprehensive and comparable data are vital for both legal enforcement efforts and awareness campaigns.
This year the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee agreed the new ´goods package´, which created the new framework for market surveillance and for the enforcement of all EU law to ensure the safety of goods available on the internal market. Earlier in this legislative period we adopted a Modernised Customs Code, and instruments to help create an effective and paperless customs. In this way we have sought to enhance the operational efficiency of customs authorities at the external borders of the EU, the last buffer of protection preventing the entry on the internal market of counterfeit goods.
Fighting counterfeiting and piracy is an issue that should continue to be at the top of our political agenda. In the Parliament we call for the European Commission to cooperate with governments, customs authorities, industry and consumers in all EU Member States. We must take action together if we are to fight it effectively. With this debate this evening we challenge the Commission to deliver a coherent and coordinated approach to tackling counterfeiting and piracy. Only in this way can we ensure consumers´ trust and confidence in the products on sale in the internal market.