Global intellectual property (IP) enforcement is a hot issue. The EU and the US, in particular, are committed to taking the level of protection beyond the minimum established by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1994.This is evidenced, for example, by the EU's Global IP Enforcement Strategy of 2004, by the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) finalized in 2010 and by a number of bi- and plurilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded in recent years. Some criticism has been voiced in civil society as well as in academic writing against this TRIPS-plus drive, particularly in relation to ACTA.
In the context of EU-ACP trade relations, the EU has now drawn up a special kind of FTA, the so-called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Designed for developing countries, EPAs include a range of non-mercantilist goals. In accordance with this, EPAs were announced as the dawn of a new era in trade relations with developing countries.
This article takes the controversial field of IP enforcement as an example for scrutinizing that new approach. As will be shown, a comparison of their rules on IP enforcement to standard IP enforcement provisions of a purely economic character, prominently the EU's domestic legislation, ACTA and general FTAs, sadly hints that any enthusiasm over EPAs in terms of development-friendliness may be premature. IP enforcement under EPAs lacks conceptual coherence and credibility in the implementation of development-related goals. This analysis is pinned against the background of a discussion of the overall role and effects of enforcement provisions in international trade agreements at the beginning and in the conclusion of this article.European Foreign Affairs Review