Olga Zrihen MEP calls for Demonstration in Front of Irish Representation in Brussels

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"Microsoft, a sponsor for the presidency of the EU?"

At the initiative of Olga Zrihen, Member of the European Parliament from the Belgian PS, of the internet section of the French socialist party "!TemPS réels" and of the VOV, Virtueller Ortsverein, the German virtual section SPD, a protest action will take place in front of the permanent representation of Ireland to the European Union this Monday, 17 May 2004 at 1300 (Rue Froissart 89, 1040 Bruxelles), during which CD-ROM containing free software will be distributed, notably to the Irish diplomats, as a signal of the existence of a free european alternative to the monopoly of the American company, Microsoft.

The European draft legislation on software patents, crucial for the future of the European information industry, after the first lecture of the European Parliament, that substantially amended the initial proposition of commissioner Bolkestein, is on the agenda of the "competitiveness" council of ministers of the 17 of May. This proposal for a directive directly puts in confrontation the material interests of the SMEs that comprise the bulk of the European software industry to that of the big multinationals, such as the American Microsoft.

Now we note that, Microsoft officially sponsors the Irish presidency of the European Union . According to Olga Zrihen, member of the European parliament Belgian socialist party, "We have the right to question this situation: the presidency of the EU, which is a central element of the European legislative process, and is supposed to obey the democratic principles, accepts to be sponsored by a private company whose economic interests are directly put into cause by a legislative proposition on the agenda of the Council! Furthermore, knowing that the "compromise" proposal emanating from the Irish presidency rejects all of the European parliament's first lecture amendments, which corresponds to the demands of Microsoft, there is a feeling of great worry."

A press conference is to be held later at 15h00 at the European parliament. A contribution of European socialists for the democratic control of the information technologies will be presented by Olga Zrihen, member of the European parliament in collaboration with Maurice Ronai, a national delegate to information society's issues for the French socialist party, Thierry Noisette, the secretary of the internet section of the French social party "!TemPS réels" and Arne Brand, a spokesman of VOV (Virtueller Ortsverein, the virtual section of the German SPD).

Contact person

Antonio Gambini, parliamentary assistant of Olga Zrihen MEP: (+32) (0)479.48.28.78

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