Plenary vote postponed

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Monday July 2nd, 2012, the European Parliament has postponed the plenary vote of the regulation on the unitary patent, that was foreseen for Wednesday. This postponement comes from the European Council decision to delete articles 6-8 from the regulation, preventing any control from the CJEU. The text is now back in Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament. Members of JURI should take this opportunity to fix the core of the text, to remove legal uncertainties which are still included, and doing so, to guarantee the integration of the European patent system within th EU legal and institutional framework.

Bernhard RAPKAY, German / Socialists & Democrats, rapporteur1

Thank you, President. I would briefly explain the reasons for the application. As you know, for quite some time we have had a series of rounds of negotiations with the Council about this single patent. At the end of November last year, we came to a common result. The package has three components: the patent regulation itself which is in codecision, the translation package, and then the third area which is a Member States agreement. We came to a common result by unanimity, and on 2nd December last year, the committee chair, the Legal Affairs Committee, Klaus-Heiner Lehne received a letter from the Council, with the texts and an accompanying letter saying that the Council would agree that, if the Parliament exactly adopted what we've had negotiated, and what we've had agreed, then the Council would also adopt that same exact text.

For seven months, we've been waiting the Council hadn't reached an agreement on another issue. And that was an issue which is not to do with our area of competence. So we didn't be able to do with the location of the patent court. And last week, the Council, in its wisdom, decided that all three possible locations for the court should be considered. Now you wonder if we have to do with an oriental bazaar. But, even that would be an insult to an oriental bazaar. The problem is that there was an additional agreement that, say, also sort of looking at issues which were within the Parliament remit, and looking at three key articles in that.

Now, early tomorrow, the Coreper will meet and to look at this. Heads of State and government have reached an agreement and they will formalise that. On 10:30, they're gonna producing the new text. And the idea was that in the afternoon we will debate on that basis and on Wednesday we will vote. This is a scandalous breach! And I think for the first time in the history of negotiations and trilogues, within informal tilogues with the Council. It's the first time that this kind of things has happened. It's not acceptable, President. And that is why we are looking for a postponement because we will not accept this! We will not accept this! If tomorrow Coreper decides what I have seen, then we will have to discuss how we deal with the whole issue in the future.

But, President, let me also say so that there's no false impression, when the Council has just departed, it's not just a matter of procedure of issues, it's about an important issue of substance. Because, according to the views of many, in negotiations themselves in the last year, when they came to taking off the three articles, the Council was also in breach of European legislation! They want to have a regulation. A regulation is supposed to regulate something. And they try to take out exactly the point which on we regulate, they want us supposed to regulating. So it's quite remarkable! So I think that we do absolutely need to take off this point of the agenda!

Klaus-Heiner LEHNE, German / European People's Party, Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee2

As rapporteur for one of these three reports on which we have to be deciding, I would like to support what Mr Rapkay says. There's no core to legislate here. I may just add to what Mr Rapkay says, if Council, sitting at midnight, starts working on legislation, well, apparently what emerges is nonsense. Deleting articles 6 to 8 just emasculate completely this proposal, this bill. We want clear confirmation that this legal basis for [intellectual] property rights can only be used once we have regulated all things and that's would be something about patents here. There has been intense discussions for months now in Council and at the wish of that couple of Heads of State or government, they simply want to delete these three key articles. So if we go the way Council wants, it seems very likely that this will go straight to the European Court of Justice. It will be a crash test. There's no way you can justify that! Yes, there's a point in test like that. But you know, you need to take the proper time and have a careful debate on important issues like this, and then come up with clear decisions. And we can't do that in these circumstances. And that's why it must be postponed.

Martin SCHULTZ, German / Socialists & Democrats, President of the European Parliament3

Thank you Mr Lehne. Does anybody wish to speak against this proposal? No. In that case, Ladies and Gentlemen please listen carefully, so we can get the procedure right. Mr Rapkay, as rapporteur, has moved, asked as this matter be removed from the order paper. We will just vote on that in a moment. And Mr Lehne, still, as the difficulties aren't worked out; [we have to decide the] future procedure. So let me propose foregoing: there was an agreement at the first reading between the rapporteur and the Council. The Council, on 2nd December, wrote a letter to Mr Lehne, saying that it was unanimous in Coreper to agree on the text that we wanted to agree on here. Now the European Council has asked Coreper to change that text tomorrow. So the situation is that we have a first reading agreement which the Council has still withdraw from. So there is no first reading. Therefore I imagine that Council will now have to write to you, Mr Lehne, with this new version. I would like you, please, then to put the matter on your committee's agenda, because your committee will have to decide on the next step. So we can reject this here, and then the Council will write to you, and you will cease the Legal Affairs Committee with the matter, right. That is so decided. And will be so in the record of proceedings. So those who agree with that procedure, please show. Is anyone against that? Any abstention? So, you've unanimously decided! Thank you very much.

  • 1. Original translation has been made by the linguistic service of the European Parliament, please refer to the original speech in German, for the exact quote.
  • 2. Original translation has been made by the linguistic service of the European Parliament, please refer to the original speech in German, for the exact quote.
  • 3. Original translation has been made by the linguistic service of the European Parliament, please refer to the original speech in German, for the exact quote.