Pierre Yves le Borgn' [the apostrophe is not a typo -- it belongs to his name], a French Representative in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has initiated a Declaration concerning recent developments in Eponia that has been signed by 82 MPs/senators, including four or the five main political group leaders. The Declaration reads as follows:
On 17 February 2015, the Hague Court of Appeal condemned the European Patent Office (EPO) [noted on this blog here], arguing that its internal dispute settlement system led to a rollback of fundamental rights enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Social Charter. The Court considered that the EPO could not invoke its immunity when a trade union is deprived of any means to challenge violations of the personnel's rights, for want of any legal remedy before the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal or via any other internal procedure.You can see the original Declaration document, together with the names of all 82 signatories, here. Pierre Yves has also posed a question to the Ministers' Committee today in Strasbourg, which you can view on YouTube here.
An international organisation cannot become a place of lesser law, sheltered by its jurisdictional immunity. Restraining the right of association, reducing the right to go on strike, preventing the personnel from being entitled to collective bargaining, depriving all organisations from any effective remedy and failing to carry out a court decision are all unacceptable developments. We call on the 38 member States of the EPO, all members of the Council of Europe, to bring this situation to an end and urge the EPO's management to comply with the decision of the Hague Court of Appeal [which it refused to do so, here].
This moggy applauds this French parliamentarian, together with another French MP, Philip Cordery, for delivering a public statement, endorsed by other MPs, Senators and Members of the European Parliament, which deplores the chaos at the EPO over the past three years [a surprise for this moggy, who until today did not realise that the Huffington Post had a French edition].
But that's not all: Miguel Viegas, a Portuguese MEP, has asked the EU Commission the following written question:
The European Patent Office (EPO) was set up forty years ago. It currently employs about seven thousand highly qualified people, most of whom work at its offices in Germany (Munich) and the Netherlands (Ryswick). In 2014 alone, it received 274 000 patent applications from companies all over the world. Its budget of EUR 2 000 million makes it the second largest European institution after the Commission.Altogether more than 100 parliamentarians from 32 countries have now expressed their anxieties and concerns regarding the persistent erosion of fundamental rights experienced by EPO staff over the past year and a half at the hands of the current regime, which presumably still enjoys the substantial support of the Administrative Council which has notional control of the organisation.
There have been a huge number of complaints about the EPO. Cases of staff suffering from depression (including four suicides since 2012), a climate of intimidation caused by the creation of an internal investigation unit, and restrictions on the right to strike have been reported by the trade union, SUEPO, which is now banned from EPO premises. Among other things, the union is complaining about management’s plan to lower the cost of registering patents at the price of employees' health.
Is the Commission aware of this situation and what is being done to investigate it? Also, what are the grounds for the immunity granted to the European Patent Office, which allegedly derives from the fact that it is extraterritorial, thus making it impossible for any legal action to be taken to protect workers' rights?
This moggy notes that there are still plenty of parliamentarians at national and local level who are not yet concerned about the continuing and unabated deterioration of the situation. If your elected representatives are in that category, do take this opportunity to educate them as to what is happening. There is no soil in Europe that is so infertile as to be barren of inventive talent and innovative enterprise, and the protection of a great deal of human creativity depends on the efficiency and well-being of the European Patent Office