Prime Minister Vanhanen urges more flexibility to find Community patent solution

October 24, 2006

Brussels, 23 October 2006

Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has urged the EU's Heads of State and Government to renew efforts to reach an agreement on creating a Community patent. 'We should all - in our countries, strengthen the political pressure to find a solution, have a little more flexibility to find a solution,' he told an informal European Council in Lahti on 20 October.

Agreeing a strategy on intellectual property rights (IPR) is central to innovation policy within the EU - the theme of the Lahti meeting. Various other presidencies have sought to find an agreement on a Community patent, but thus far to no avail.

'If we haven't managed, it's not because the Community institutions haven't done enough, but simply because people haven't agreed, not least on the language arrangements,' said Commission President José Manuel Barroso after the meeting.

The three options open to the EU, as outlined by Mr Vanhanen, are to:

- leave things as they are. 'This would be by far the worst option';

- 'take a step forward through the London Agreement'. This would simplify Europe's current system;

- 'seek Community solutions in order to improve the patent system. This should be our ultimate goal.'

Mr Barroso backed up Mr Vanhanen's call on the Member States to do more to find an agreement, asking them to take a 'pragmatic approach'. He seemed optimistic that a mutually satisfactory arrangement could be found: 'Certainly in the light of today's discussion, no one has questioned the fact that there is a need to come up with a solution in Europe for patents, because it's one of the areas where we fall well short, in particular of our American friends.' The Commission is due to draft a strategy on intellectual property rights in 2007.

The meeting also saw the presentation of the Commission's proposal on creating a European Institute of Technology (EIT). The Finnish Prime Minister said that the Institute should have a real impact on Europe's innovation gap. While he pointed out that many open questions on the EIT remain, discussions gave a 'real green light' to the initiative, he said.

Mr Barroso welcomed the meeting's informal approval, describing the EIT as 'a future flagship for innovation in Europe'.

For further information on the meeting, please visit: http:///www.eu2006.fi/calendar/vko42/en_G B/11297071615/

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