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Commission won't restart patents directive, DG MARKT fears balanced approach

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Brussels, 28 February 2005 -- The Commission has turned down the European Parliament's request for a restart of the software patents directive. Despite a virtually unanimous vote in the European Parliament's responsible JURI Committee and a unanimous request by the whole European Parliament in plenary, the Commission's DG Internal Market is apparently determined to destroy the directive by trying to get the EP to massively reject the directive in second reading.

The Commission's Directorate General for the Internal Market, which is responsible for the directive, has informed several parties today it has denied the EP's request for a restart of the much contested software patents directive. FFII confirmed this information with Ms Antonia Carparelli, deputy head of Commissioner Walström's cabinet and responsible for relations with the Parliament. She said

She also mentioned that she didn't think that McCreevy could be persuaded to renegotiate in the Council. This confirms what FFII had previously already heard from a member of the Commission's DG Information Society, namely that that DG MARKT was very reluctant to restart.

The reported reason was that if they do restart, they must produce a new text on which several other DG's, such as Information Society and Competition, must agree as well. These other DG's would reportedly never support an extreme text such as the one currently on the table in the Council, or even the original Commission proposal from 2002. They would insist on a more balanced approach, which is apparently not desired by DG MARKT.

"/Instead of grabbing the chance to take into account all new facts which have come to light since the origin of the current directive text, namely the Green Paper from 1997, the Commission is alienating the EP to an extent that it may very well simply call a halt to this farce which is supposed to represent democracy/", comments Jonas Maebe, FFII Board Member. "/If a set of harmonised rules is truly the number one goal of the Commission, then why is it sabotaging the whole process?/"

In the mean time, highly placed government sources have also confirmed that the directive will once more appear as an A-item on 7 March, this time on the agenda of the responsible Competition Council formation. All hope for a democratic and balanced resolution now rests on the shoulders of the ministers and officials who will attend that Council meeting. Turning the directive back into a B-item, i.e. a discussion point, seems to be the only proper way out now.

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