Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Software Patent Directive Discussion Mess

The Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Brinkhorst, is getting some heat on his role in the debate on the Software Patent Directive in the European Council, last Monday. The Directive was approved by the Council, but it stays unclear how exactly, and more specifically what the role of the Dutch Minister was. A motion of the Dutch Parliament had instructed the Minister to support a move by another country to make the Directive a so-called B-item, which would have led to a discussion on its approval. Instead the Directive was moved through the Council as a no-voter A-item.

Brinkhorst claimed yesterday that no other country has tried to make the Directive a B-item. According to him Denmark, thought to do just that, did not live up to the expectations and didn't pursue a discussion on the Directive. Now, as webwereld reports (Dutch), the Danish Minister of Economic Affairs, Bendtsen, has made an opposite claim. According to the Danish Minister he did ask to make the Directive a B-item: "The chair (Luxembourg) refused to reopen the discussion. The conclusion was that there was not support of the other countries for a new discussion. Only Portugal supported Denmark."

If the Danish Minister's claim is true then the Dutch Minister has not only not followed the Dutch parliament's motion, but also misinformed it on Monday's proceedings. Dutch parliamentarians have asked for an official transcript of the proceedings, and will continue the discussion on the Directive on Thursday. In the meantime the Directive itself is on its way to a second reading, surmounting the fuzzy procedural actions of this week. The procedure of adaptation has become as much a point of discussion as the Directive itself. That no one seems to be sure what exactly happened at the Council's proceedings may be more worrying than the actual rules that are being set. The legitimacy of rules is as much in the rule making as in the rules themselves. It shows the European Union in a weak democratic form. But then, this is no surprise to many.

Also read Karl Lenz's take on what happened at Monday's proceedings: Aussi Les Autres. He wonders if the Luxembourg chair possesses some extraordinary telepathic powers, reading votes without being spoken out and might mean no telepathics a procedural non-approval?

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