Referendum awaits EU patent deal

The PM’s last-minute success in Brussels could be foiled by Euro-sceptic MPs at home

June 29th, 2012 4:37 pm| by admin
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On the second-last day of Danish EU presidency, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt has managed to set up an EU patent tribunal to be housed in Paris.

Thorning-Schmidt spent Friday in closed meetings with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, Britiain's prime minister, David Cameron and the French president, Francois Hollande, reaching a deal on a EU patent tribunal, an issue that has remained unresolved for 30 years.

The headquarters of the EU patent tribunal will be located in Paris, but there will also be considerable departments in London and in Munich.

But what looks to be a major victory for the Danish EU presidency ending tomorrow, could potentially be sabotaged by a public referendum.

Euro sceptic parties Dansk Folkeparti and Enhedslisten are demanding that the European tribunal be sent to a national referendum as it will require Denmark to cede of sovereignty.

“We have always been against the EU tribunal and the common EU rules. We fear that it will lead to widespread software and genetic patents in the EU,” Per Clausen, of Enhedslisten, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “And I don’t think it will help the smaller companies. On the contrary, it’s more likely the larger companies that will profit from it.”

But Dansk Industri, the country's largest business advocacy group, feels that the patent agreement is ground-breaking and could save Danish companies millions of kroner and lead to an overall savings of €300 million throughout Europe.

“When Danish companies are unable to protect their inventions, it negatively affects growth and employment at home,” Tine Roed, of Dansk Industri, told Jyllands Posten.”That is why a common patency system and patent tribunal are paramount for the companies.”

If Dansk Folkeparti and Enhedslisten refuse to sign the accord then parliament will not have the five-sixth's majority needed to avoid the referendum.

Jens Joel, (Socialdemokraterne) said he was optimistic the two parties could be persuaded into supporting the measure.

“It would be extremely difficult to hold a referendum about his because not only is it very technical but it doesn’t mean much to the average Dane, while it means everything to the companies trying to sell their products,” Joel told Berlingske newspaper. “That’s why I find it perplexing that the Danish People's Party would sabotage the deal and damage the Danish business interests.”

(Photo by Nan Palmero)
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