Archive for March, 2005

The big picture: a short guide to EU negotiations

21 March 2005

This year is a decisive one for the EU. Not in the way every year is declared decisive by newspapers writing their New Year’s editorials, but in a very real way: (more…)

Lack of transparency is not the problem, lazy media are

11 March 2005

Nosemonkey has this post on lobbying in the EU institutions. But although I think I am as committed as he is to the principles of transparency and democracy, my analysis would take a slightly different angle.

First of all, I think lobbying is in essence a good thing and in fact essential for the quality of public decision-making. We expect our representatives in various parliaments and in our governments (including the European Commission) to consult widely with civil society before they take any decisions. How else could they do that than by talking to its representatives? (more…)

Bad and good news from Europe

11 March 2005

In the ‘bad news’ category today: the European Parliament’s vote supporting the US inspired line on therapeutical cloning. Does it matter? Not immediately, as the EP has no formal say in this matter which still is a national competence. The real bad news about this, is that it could mean the conservative christian vote (which was supported by the German-dominated greens) is a lot stronger in this parliament than it was during the previous mandate.

On a more positive pre-weekend note (as least in my opinion), there is today’s decision by the EU’s environment ministers to set even more ambitious post-Kyoto targets than the Commission proposed.

Software patents: understanding the procedure

1 March 2005

The European Commission yesterday rejected the European Parliament’s request for a whole new proposal on software patents. That does not seem very smart from a tactical point of view, as Parliament’s request was unanimous and it is Parliament which eventually decides if the proposal becomes law.

The Commission could however have decided to chance it, as software patent activists have a tendency to cry foul and overstate their case to such an extent that there is a real risk of backfiring. This would be a pity as at least part of the activists’ case (to what extent and under which conditions do patents, in general, promote or inhibit innovation) deserves serious consideration. That discussion, however, is for another time. For now, I will just try to add structure to the debate by providing a short outline of the legislative procedure at EU level in order to make clear what the next steps are. (more…)