Tuesday, June 22, 2004

It seems as if the Dutch parliament may consider revoking its support for the EU software patent directive because the Dutch minister responsible for agreeing to the directive in the Council of Ministers and for educating the parliament on the matter, Mr Brinkhorst, er ever so slightly misled them, or should I say "misinformed" them. He suggested in a letter to the Dutch parliament in advance of the vote in the Council of Ministers that there was "agreement" between the EU Parliament and the Commission on the issue, when the two were basically at loggerheads.

I won't suggest that Mr Brinkhorst lied as it would not be appropriate especially since there is a good bet that many of his contemporaries around the EU were equally "informative" with regard to educating their national parliaments on the matter.

The transcript of the discussions in the council of ministers makes interesting reading, if only for those seriously enmeshed in the ethics and politics of sw patents but the final part of this democratic discussion is a classic case of the Irish (IE)chairwoman pushing for the rubber stamping of the business at hand, regardless of the substance of the business.

"IE: And Denmark? Can I hear from Denmark please?
Denmark: I would really like to ask the commission why they couldn't accept the last sentence put forward by the Italians. It was in the original German proposal.
(19:13) IE: I think the Commissioner already answered that question, I'm sorry Denmark. So are you yes, no, abstain?
DK: I think we wouldn't, we're not hap...
IE: Can I assume you're a "yes"?
DK: We're not happy
IE: But are you 80% happy?
DK: But... I think we...
IE: We don't need you you to be totally happy. None of us are totally happy.
DK: I know that, I know that.
IE: If we were, we wouldn't be here
DK: I think we're not very happy, but I think we would, we would...
IE: Thank you very much
DK: ... we would like to see a solution today.
IE: Thank you very much, Denmark.
(19:45) IE: Spain, are you abstention or no?
ES: Sorry, no.
IE: Thank you Spain, Austria?
AT: Abstention.
(20:03) IE: Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm happy to say that we have a qualified majority, so thank you all very very much indeed, and thank you to commissioner Bolkestein.
IE: France... The vote is over France, no more ... for France please
FR: I didn't want to cause confusion. I'm so happy that we've managed to reach this result thanks to your hard work and that of the Commission. I just wanted to say that I'd like to propose a declaration using the words I used in my first statement. A declaration appended to the Council minutes.
(21:04) IE: Yes, thank you France, it's fine."

Democracy in action. I particularly like the "We don't need you you to be totally happy. None of us are totally happy." I'm almost relieved that the Irish presidency of the EU is coming to an end.

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