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Patents taken off Fishery Agenda at Poland's Request Once More

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Brussels, 24th January 2005 -- The adoption of the Council's software patent agreement has been postponed once more, as confirmed by the Council's public information service. Poland was again the country that managed to delay the decision. This means that the Parliament will have time to continue preparing to restart the procedure.

On January 21st the Polish European Committee of the Council of Ministers (KERM) announced that it would make a request to the EU Presidency not to put the item concerning the Software Patent Directive on the agenda of the meeting of the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries that took place on the 24th of January.

The original statement was published on the website of the Polish Office of the Committee for European Integration (UKIE) . Here is a translation:

Although the message once more makes it clear that Poland is really unhappy about being forced to vote for something that it doesn't support, so far no member state has asked to reopen negotiations in the Council. The presidency is still insisting on unwritten diplomatic rules, according to which political agreements cannot be changed. Thus it is still not unlikely that the directive could reappear on an unrelated Council meeting as an "uncontroversial" A-item, i.e. scheduled for adoption without vote.

One of the reasons for this time's rushed attempt to pass the directive as an A-item appears to have been the fact that the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee is set to decide about a request for renewed referral (restart of the procedure) at a meeting on February 2nd.

The meeting chairman Klaus-Heiner Lehne MEP (German Christian Democrat), who is coordinating the decisions of the EPP-ED group in the European Parliament's Legal Affairs committee (JURI) and has gone to some lengths to resist the restart so far, had agreed that he would be open to the idea if the Council did not adopt the software patent directive as a Common Position this week.

Meanwhile, Günter Krings MP, speaker of the German Christian Democrats in the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) on this matter, has criticised the German government for its failure to deliver on promises to take the Parliament's views into account and asked for reopening of negotiations in the Council.

We will see a lobbying blitz of unprecedented proportions on the part of the patent industry in the coming weeks and months.

If we can obtain neither a discussion in the Council nor a restart in the Parliament, we enter a second reading. In that case the newly elected Parliament will have only 3-4 months to react and it will factually need a 60-70% majority against the Council's proposals. This would be a highly risky game, and we would also lose our best chances of melting the ice in the Council.

Yet even in a 2nd reading we should win. We are offering proven solutions, whereas the patent industry is throwing nothing but money and FUD at the MEPs.

The decision about a renewed referral to the European Parliament in European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) has been postponed at the request of Commissioner McCreevy or February 2nd and 3rd, when he intends to come for talks to the European Parliament.

Thus the coming days are decisive on whether the European Parliament asks the Commission for a renewed referral or not.

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