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Parliamentary questions
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15 September 2020
E-003299/2020(ASW)
Answer given by Mr Breton
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-003299/2020

The European Patent Organisation (‘EPOrg’) is an independent intergovernmental organisation. Its Administrative Council is responsible for overseeing the operations of the European Patent Office (‘EPO’).

While Commission representatives attend the meetings of the EPOrg Administrative Council as observers, the Commission does not participate in any decision-making regarding the management of the EPO, or of any EPO/EPOrg committee, body or other organ. In addition, observers are not allowed to attend the discussion on a number of sensitive issues, such as financial matters.

That being said, the Commission is supportive of the efforts of the EPO to improve its governance mechanisms, as described in the ‘Strategic Plan 2023’(1) adopted in June 2019. Particularly appreciated is the EPO’s intention to establish ‘a comprehensive framework for cooperation with the EU Commission’. As regards auditing, it may be noted that a Board of Auditors is still operating in accordance with Article 49 of the European Patent Convention(2); therefore, the disbandment of the EPO Audit Committee in June 2011 does not, as such, jeopardise the auditing requirements defined by the European Patent Convention.

While the Commission is aware of the new intentions of the EPO regarding governance and auditing, which indeed entail certain changes compared to the past mechanisms, the Commission is not in a position to comment on, and even less so to influence, the related decisions and arrangements.

That being said, the Commission is fully confident that the EU Member States, in their capacity as members of the EPOrg’s Administrative Council, are paying proper attention to the governance and auditing issues related to the management of the EPO.

(1)http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/2217f5b7cc07d47cc125841c00610386/USD FILE/EPO_Strategic_Plan_2023_en.pdf
(2)https://www.epo.org/about-us/governance/administrative-council/auditors.html
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