The European Union's executive said on Wednesday it would refer a disputed global anti-piracy agreement to the bloc's highest court, to see whether it complied with the EU's fundamental rights.

This morning, my fellow commissioners have discussed and agreed in general with my proposal to refer the ACTA agreement to the European Court of Justice, said EU trade chief Karel De Gucht, referring to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

We are planning to ask Europe's highest court to assess ACTA's compatibility with the EU's fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression and information or that of protection, he told a regular news briefing.

ACTA aims to cut trademark theft and tackle online piracy, but the accord has sparked recent protests across European capitals over fears of online censorship and increased surveillance.

(Reporting by Claire Davenport, editing by Charlie Dunmore)