R.I.P. EU-Democracy

... if you ever existed. Today, Denmark failed in its attempt to stop Software Patents from being passed through the EU Council. There is IMHO little hope that the second reading of the parliament will make a difference. Other people keep stating that they are ashamed to live in the European Union. I think I have a feeling that is worse: I am scared.


the pms are scared... you think the US pressuring the EU to lay off MS was bad. if they put the nix on software patents i bet they would start looking for weapons of mass distractions in Berlin by the following spring....

there are some shady political maneuvers here, some on the part of my country, some on the part of greedy companies... either way, as usual things need to get much worse before they get better :(

Also from what I understand, just because the EU approves it doesn't mean the member states have to. is this correct?

By Ian Reinhart Geiser at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 15:15

We changed the Parliament's mind last time. Now it is harder because we require an absolute majority, but this time every MEP knows all about it, and many are really angry with the Commission & Council. And if Parliament passes a strong second reading against swpats, it will make things really hard for the Commission in the concilliation process.

The best thing to do is to get back to lobbying MEPs. Find those that voted against swpats in the 1st reading and make sure they're really going to fight this time around. Find those that voted for swpats (i.e. against the good amendments that were put in) and try to persuade them. Call them up, arrange to meet with them, tell them how you'll be affected.

With a little preparation work only the most blatantly undemocratic MEPs will ignore you. Most will at the very least try to ask their party expert about your points, and if you can show them why their expert's answers are unsatisfactory you may well sway them.

Oh, and Ian... yes, national states can refuse to adopt it at the moment if it's passed. But that's not likely, at least not in most member states. Moreover, just the presence of the EU legislation will give the patent trolls all the big guns they need to pressure SMEs... and we'll miss a big opportunity to send American and Asian governments a much needed message: no to software patents!

By Tom Chance at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 15:27

imho the EU stopping software patents will go a long way into getting others to address the issue. my concern though is that the US could use the lack of software patents in the EU as a stick to beat EU companies with.

i think the PMs are scared of that more than they are scared of their own people.

By Ian Reinhart Geiser at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 15:30

Well European companies will still be able to file for patents in the US, Japan and other naughty nations. And it might give a lot of companies an incentive to do more work in Europe. I can see it now: the flight of the free softies to the old world.

But then most of the MEPs I've talked to when wandering around the corridors in Brussels are just ignorant. They take their line from the party expert and, in the UK at least, the experts in the three main parties are stooges. The Tories have Malcolm Harbour who is just about as pro big business as you'd imagine a Tory to be; the Lib Dems have a patent lawyer (no joke!) and Labour, well they used to have Arlene McCarthy who pushed the nasty stuff through, but now she's reasonably on side, but she's left all her colleagues confused. So, urm, well my point is that logic ain't a strong factor here ;-) For UK residents it's mostly a matter of putting a wedge in between your constituent MEPs and their experts by showing how dumb their experts are.

By Tom Chance at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 17:08

> my concern though is that the US could use the lack of software patents in the EU as a stick to beat EU companies with.

I could bite into my chair, when I read something like this. Better veritable economic war, than software patents. Everyone has sticks to beat the other, if necessary.

By carlo at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 17:09

the US could use the lack of software patents in the EU as a stick to beat EU companies with
In the alternate case, the US megacorps could use the presence of software patents as a stick to beat EU companies with. Lose-lose, and personally I think the former case (lose because of no swpatents) is less likely, seeing as there currently aren't any (and never have been), and it hasn't yet happened.

By Gábor Lehel at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 17:09

As a US employee of Siemens AG, I don't think the US won't be able to beat anyone with that stick, because the EU Megacorps will be too busy beating their own customers with that stick to let the US get a hold of it.

By David Johnson at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 19:57

How do we expect EU wide democracy to work when our own governments fail at it?

After all the council is just a meeting of representatives from the different governments.

For example the German parliament had a majority against it, but did it affect their government? Did they threaten to ask the government to resign using a vote of no confidence?
I bet they didn't, didn't want to scare their own parties.

I feel really sorry for the members of the Danish parliament: they did take the risk of national problems in order to get their govnerment in line with them, the representatives of the Danish people.

And I am ashamed for the cowards in your government (Austria), they had the backing of a large majority and just managed to stay neutral instead of stepping up and saying NO

By krake at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 18:21

The european parlament has to vote against the patent directive in union.

On a german news page in a forum I read something I found very well said (translated):

"There is no reason to hope for a decline. Even if there are enough EU delegates who are against it they will succeed that:
1) many patent-enemies of the directive will not be present (but subscribed to the list -- for the money! (Tagesgelder!))
2) almost all patent-supporters will be present
3) enough delegates got "financial support" (much money) so that there are enough delegates who will finally vote "yes!""

This shows best the european democracy-deficit. (ger: Demokratiedefizit).

So what will happen? -- don't be afraid, they will handle all this (sarcasm).

By Dominik at Mon, 03/07/2005 - 23:17