Josep Borrell: Why the Parliament rejected the Directive

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6th July 2005, Strasburg -- On the day of the rejection of the Commission's and Council's "Common Position" for a directive "on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions" (software patent directive), the president of the European Parliament sharply criticises the unconstructive approach of the Commission and Council to the dossier and explains this unprecedented move of the Parliament as a logical reaction to this approach.

Well thank you very much to everyone. Now, what has happened in European Parliament has shown that Europe is at a crossroads but is not paralized. And we aren't broken down. We continue to do with very important subjets. And today, we've had a vote which we can call, if not historic, at least well something that's happening for the very first time. I think it's the first time if I'm not wrong that the European Parliament is rejecting a Common Position of Council. On a few occasions, the Parliament rejected the result of the process of Conciliation. But today, it has rejected a Common Position of Council. Well, and in an overwhelming fashion. 648 votes in favour and 14 against. This is perhaps the most unanimous vote we ever had.

Now, the rapporteur, Mr. Rocard, has worked very hard on the subject will explain the details, the technical details, well not just the technical details, but the details of what's at stakes here today.

Now, I would just like to put out the critical importance that that has for interinstitutional balance and for the role the Parliament does clay. I would like to emphasis that on three early occasions, the Parliament rejected the draft proposal of the Comittee of Counciliation on biotechnologies, on OPAs and port services in 2003. But this time, we rejected the Common Position of Council as I've said, and we've done so after having previously asked Council to withdraw it -- sorry we asked the Commission to withdraw it. Now, the Commission -- I have to say very courteously of course -- ignored us totally. We've asked them to withdraw it and they've said they want to maintain it. Well this is the result now. And I hope the Commission will note that, and the Council as well. The Commission proposes, but it doesn't decide, doesn't dispose. It's the legislative bodies that decide: the Council and the Parliament. And we do so on an equal footing, the two of us. Now this time, the Parliament has demonstrated this, and this is one more milestone in the history of the Parliament, which is assuming its functions and carrying them out. Today, they did want to withdraw their proposal, so they got 648 votes against it.

I also have to say that I've found it totally inappropriate how certain Commissionners conduct themselves, that before the vote of the Parliament had warned -- and this term "warned" is an euphemism -- they warned that if the Parliament rejected the draft directive they would not present any other. Of course the Commission has the monopoly over initiative taken -- I mean they're legally right to say this -- but the Commissionners are paid extremely well to take up problems and to propose solutions which can receive the support of legislators. And if there's a problem and the solution that they've put forward isn't convincing to those who have to approve it, and they still think that there's a problem, they're going to have to put forward another solution, because if not, they're not fulfilling their functions. And I hope I'm going to be able to talk to Mr. Barroso about this attitude, which doesn't correspond to the spirit of the agreement that we've signed, both institutions, to, in a more coordinated constructive fashion to carry out the functions of each of our institutions.

There is a problem. And the solution that has been proposed is not satisfactory. This is very clear, we see this in the vote, and Mr. Rocard will explain why. Now, of course the Commission can say "well, let's just leave things as they are", but I don't think that's any reasonable way of going to got carrying out of their functions.

Now, we'll have the opportunity to discuss this. But I'd like to recall that after the rejection of biotechnologies and the OPAs, after that, there were new directives put forward, and then accepted by the Parliement. And in the subject of port services, there's a new directive that is being discussed. So, I can't say the Commission formally hasn't respected the agreement between our two institutions, but I think that we can work in a more coordinated fashion to achieve the common good for Europe.

I'm very pleased that the Parliament has very clearly marked its position. Of course, it would have been better if, among all of us, we had been able to agree on specific amendments, and it would have made it possible for us to move forward, but there were enough differences between the Parliament's position and that of Commission and Council for us to achieve this result which was to be expected. And I hope that the Parliament will be taken in more considerations starting from now. Thank you. The rapporteur...

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