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To read comments to this article, go here
Software Patent Directive Passed as A-Item
Monday, March 07 2005 @ 09:53 AM EST

Don't ask me to explain it, because I can't. FFII has the news, and they even have an audio recording of it. The software patent directive was passed as an A-Item, despite the requests for a B-Item from Denmark, Poland, Portugal and others. They were told no B-Item was possible, for procedural rules reasons, so it stayed as an A-Item, and it was rammed through that way. "The objecting countries seem to have forgotten to request removal of the A-item from the agenda. Rules 3.1 + 3.7 would have given any single country the right to have the A-item removed, because the Luxemburg presidency had failed to insert it more than 14 days earlier," FFII says and analyzes it this way:

"Reportedly, the Danish minister (who was forced by a parliamentary committee to request a B-item, but did not like that at all) and the Luxembourg Council Presidency use the following paragraph as defense for their behaviour:

3.6. The provisional agenda shall be divided into Part A and Part B. Items for which approval by the Council is possible without discussion shall be included in Part A, but this does not exclude the possibility of any member of the Council or of the Commission expressing an opinion at the time of the approval of these items and having statements included in the minutes.

"This paragraph indeed does not mention anything about the possibility to change an A item into a B item. Looking at rule 3.8, that one says:

3.8 "However, an A item shall be withdrawn from the agenda, unless the Council decides otherwise, if a position on an A item might lead to further discussion thereof or if a member of the Council or the Commission so requests."

"They might argue this still doesn't say anything about changing an A item into a B item, although three countries (with the support of more) asking for a B item is hard to classify as anything but something which "might lead to further discussion". Additionally, Annex III of those same rules of procedure states on page 20, point 1(c):

(c) Article 3(8) (maintaining as a "B" item on the agenda an "A" item, which would otherwise have had to be withdrawn from the agenda);

"This clearly and literally provides for the possibility of turning an A item into a B item if otherwise the A item would have to be withdrawn from the agenda (which is the case if there 'might' be further discussion due to some statement from a country)."

Here's my analysis: Money talks. NoSoftwarePatents.com says the EU Parliament now has 3 months to accept or reject the decision.

Here is their press release in part:

Brussels (07 March 2005). The EU Council today adopted its Common Position on the software patent directive against the express will of various member countries. The text, which in the opinion of its critics is only a minority position today, had been previously agreed upon on 18 May 2004. Its formal adoption had failed repeatedly due to strong resistance by country governments and national parliaments. The minister from Luxembourg who chaired the meeting said: "We are adopting this Common Position today for institutional reasons as not to create a precedent" with implications to other processes in the Council. . . .

.... The European Parliament will now have three months to reject or amend the proposal. For rejection or every single amendment, the EP needs a majority of the component members of parliaments, i.e. 367 votes irrespective of absences or abstentions. . . .

The EP will have up to four opportunities to reject the proposal, two in a second reading (one before and one after the votes on proposed amendments), a third one in conciliation and a fourth one in a third reading.


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