27 January 2011

EU Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) Gave Consent to Enhanced Cooperation Today

[MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Chairman onf Legal Affairs Committee]
On 13 December 2010, a qualified majority of 23 EU member states (all but Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Cyprus) agreed to implement a 'small' EU patent by way of enhanced cooperation (see earlier posting), based on a legislative proposal of the EU Commission (press release) basically adopting the EPO language regime (Art. 14 EPC), according to which the EU patent would be examined and granted (by the EPO) in English, French or German. Further, machine translations would be provided for the remaining national EU languages.

According to this press release, the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament today gave its consent to the use of enhanced cooperation to create the EU patent, as proposed in the report prepared by the JURI committee's chairman, German MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP), who decided to go ahead with the vote without waiting for the juridical opinion of the legal service (see yesterday's IPJur posting).

Next, the Parliament's legal service is expected to publish their legal opinion on enhanced cooperation in teh beginning of February, so that the European Parliament can vote on the proposal mid February. The Competitiveness Council will examine the proposal on 10 March 2011.

Due to a number of remaining unresolved issues, this fast-track approach has received quite some critisism. In fact, enhanced cooperation is a completely unusual procedure which has not yet been used for European core issues, such as internal market policy. Some observers say that with regard to vested interests of French and German industry, it is not a coincidence that Frenchman Michel Barnier (Internal Market Commissioner) and German Klaus-Peter Lehne (JURI chairman) are accelerating the process to an unprecedented efficiency record (see yesterday's EurActiv posting).