[REPONSE] Parlement européen, Question avec demande de réponse écrite à la Commission n°E-003299/2020 de Clare Daly (GUE/NGL) du 02/06/2020 - Office européen des brevets ; Dissolution du comité d’audit (Réponse publiée le 15/09/2020)

Niveau juridique : Union européenne

Texte de la question :

« The European Patent Organisation (EPOrg) is an intergovernmental organisation established under the terms of the European Patent Convention (EPC). Under the terms of Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012, increased co-operation between the EU and the EPOrg has been in progress since 2012 in the context of the EU’s Unitary Patent project. Furthermore, although the EU is not a contracting party to the European Patent Convention, it has observer status on the Administrative Council of the EPOrg under the terms of Article 30 of the EPC.

1. Does the Commission agree that the EU has a legitimate interest in ensuring that governance mechanisms at the EPO are fit for purpose?

2. Is the Commission aware of and concerned by the circumstances relating to the disbandment of the EPO Audit Committee in June 2011, a Committee which had only been established two years previously?

3. Does the Commission agree that the establishment of the Audit Committee was meant to empower the Board of the Administrative Council to better control the EPO, and that the consequence of its disbandment was to return this key oversight function to a single person – the President of the Office, and is the Commission of the opinion that current governance mechanisms at the EPO, particularly those on financial and budgetary oversight, are fit for purpose, and correspond to international best practice? »

Réponse de M. Breton au nom de la Commission européenne :

« 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’ 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 ; 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. »

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