300 Demonstrators waiting to deliver message to Commissioner McCreevy
Brussels, 17 February 2005, 11.30 -- 300 Demonstrators stood outside the building of the European Commission waiting for someone to come out and accept delivery of the following message. People at DG Internal Market were however in a meeting and unable to come out.
Erik Josefsson, FFII representative in Brussels, reports his impressions:
- In spite of the cold weather, there is a warm atmosphere out here. The Brussels police is wonderful, very cooperative. Many of the civil servants who are passing by here evidently know of the problem for which we are standing here and feel sympathetic to our cause.
The message delivery was then postponed. It was used at the press conference.
The Message to Commissioner McCreevy
The European Union has become a Banana Republic. The division of competences between the legislative and the executive branch is not functioning as it should. And there is a lot you can do about it.
We are coming to your doors as representatives of a large network of productive forces of the knowledge economy. We have come to perceive the European Commission's Directorate General for Internal Market as part of a voracious monster, a hostile force that is threatening the freedom and vitality of European citizens, particularly those on whome the "Lisbon strategy" depends, and that is regularly using deceptive means in pursuing these ends.
The current critical situation surrounding the software patent directive is the direct result of a series of past monstrous actions of DG Internal Market.
In 1997, when the directive project started, the explicit goal was to bring Europe in line with US practice, and the proposed means did not differ from those which DG Internal Market is continuing to push today. DG Internal Market went on by consulting only corporate patent lawyers, later by declaring these to be the "economic majority", by locking away unfavorable studies, by refusing to discuss the matter with other directorates, by ignoring critical studies conducted by the Commission and opinions of the EU's consultative organs, by threatening to move the dossier away from the European Parliament back to the EPO, by instigating the Council to ignore the Parliament's amendments.
This path has now come to a dead end. It is time for a fresh start. The change of commissioners, along with the Parliament's restart initiative, provide an excellent opportunity. Another option would be for the Commission to propose a reopening of negotiations in the Council (B-item) on the basis of a new approach.
The Commission is in fact best positioned to move the process forward. Administrations are usually best equipped to put the will of the elected legislators into an appropriate form. The previous Commission failed to perform this role, and now is an opportunity to make up for the failure.
Monster words such as "computer-implemented inventions" should stay out of any fresh proposal. Such words are freshness killers. Whether software solutions should be inventions in the sense of patent law is an open question that needs to be discussed impartially. The European Commission must speak the plain language spoken by the skilled person in the fields of engineering and data processing. It must openly consider all legislative choices and and measure them by their effects on the productivity of Europe's citizens and enterprises.
We wish you a fortunate hand in moving this directive project forward, and in moving DG Internal Market toward a healthy role in a Europe characterised by a parliamentary democracy and a burgeoning knowledge economy.