Further to the replies to questions E-009256/2015 and E-000938/2016 can the Commission answer the following additional questions:
1. Bearing in mind that it acts as ‘guardian of the Treaties’, does the Commission see no legal possibility of enabling EPO employees to enjoy protection of their fundamental rights under Union law or of opening investigations into violations of fundamental rights, notwithstanding the fact that overseeing the application of Union law and applying the Treaties are, as specified in Article 17(1) TEU, one of its core tasks?
2. What proposals can it put forward, for instance in connection with future reforms of European primary and secondary legislation, in order to greatly strengthen its hand for the purpose of guaranteeing proper protection of fundamental rights within the EU and hence the EPO?
3. What practical steps has it taken in the current parliamentary term to encourage the dialogue between social partners referred to in the answer to Question E-009256/2015?
The European Patent Organisation (EPO) is not a body of the European Union but an independent international organisation without an organic link to the EU. Therefore, the EPO is not subject to Union law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Commission has no powers as regards the EPO.
An independent study on social matters in the EPO has been recently released. This should be the basis for a new and strengthened dialogue at the European Patent Office. It is of the utmost importance that all social partners work together to find concrete and tangible solutions to the benefit of the Organisation. The Administrative Council of the EPO, in which the Commission has an observer status, could intervene if agreed by Member States, if necessary to unblock any future social deadlock.