Council ready to adopt Common Position on Soft-Pats
Contrary to expectations which already saw the majority of the Council of the European Union shifting to opposing software patents, the Council seems to be taking preparations to adopt its much contested draft Common Position, dating from 26 May 2004, during one of its meetings in the week before Christmas. The current Dutch Presidency of the EU seems to be so eager to have the document passed during its term that the paper is likely to be adopted either during the Environment Council on 20 December or the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 21-22 December, just because there will be no more other Council meetings before the end of the year.
The adoption of a Common Position does however not mean that, as a recent Slashdot article says, the Council will manage to ‘circumvent’ the European Parliament. In the co-decision procedure, the adoption of a Common Position just sends out a strong signal to the Parliament that the Council will remain stubborn.
The Dutch effort to push the Common Position comes as a surprise after a decision taken in the Dutch National Parliament on 1 July 2004. A more than two-thirds majority revoked the country’s initial positive vote on the document and asked government to withhold approval. In addition, the Dutch Presidency has applied considerable diplomatic pressure onto the government of the Republic of Poland, another patent-sceptic country, not to demand a vote on the Common Position. The Polish government has already signalled that it will not hinder consensus.
An urgent debate in the economical affairs committee of the Dutch Lower House today did not bring any further clarification about the date of the possible adoption of the Common Position. The State Secretary of Economical Affairs, Ms van Gennip, said the Dutch government would bring out a unilateral statement during the Council meeting expressing the concerns of the Dutch parliament. The statement was still in preparation, she said, but would meet all of Parliament’s concerns. Since there will be no vote on the A-item, she said, the Netherlands don’t have to abstain from voting.
Common position adopted by the Council with a view to the adoption of a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions (18.11.2004)
Addendum 1 (Draft statement of the Council’s reasons) (24.11.2004)
Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions – Common position – Statement of the Council’s reasons (10.12.2004)
Addendum 1: Statements for entry in the Council Minutes by the Commission, by Hungary, and by the Netherlands (10.12.2004)
Addendum 1. Correction 1 (Revised translation of Statement by the Netherlands, 14.12.2004)
Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 24 September 2003 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2003/…/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions (As voted on 24.9.2003; date of publication: 26.3.2004)
(Contribution by Andreas Dietl, EDRI EU Affairs Director)