(With apologies to Gandhi.)

There’s something very rotten in the EU, and it’s the fact that, despite having a Parliament, much of the actual legislation is decided behind closed doors by an unelected oligarchy. Case in point: software patents.

I’m very interested in this because it directly affects me professionally. I attended a demonstration in Brussels last month against the implementation of such patents in the EU (they’re currently not legal). It’s not just me, though. The European Parliament—the popularly-elected representative body of EU citizens—also voted against software patents.


The Irish EU presidency— sponsored by Microsoft Corporation—has managed to secure a majority in the Council of Europe to throw away all the Parliament’s amendments; in other words, the unelected body has decided specifically to overrule the decision of the democratic body.

The best quote has to be that of Bent Hindrup Andersen, a Danish MEP who says:

The approach of the Commission and Council in this directive is shocking. They are making full use of all the possibilities of evading democracy that the current Community Law provides. First they ignored 94% of the participants of their own consultation, without given any justification apart from the claim that the remaining 6% represented the “economic majority”. Now they are completely disregarding the vote of the European Parliament, and by the way also of the Economic and Social Council and of the Council of Regions. They are doing this because they are used to succede by doing this. The EU is constructed this way. It makes unaccountable bureaucrats the masters of legislation. The problem is compounded by the complete lack of democratic checks and balances in the European patent system. EU and Patents combine into a particularly toxic mixture. Europe’s citizens urgently need to take up this issue and learn the lessons before it is too late. They should in particular not allow this kind of structure to be perpetuated by a European Constitution this year.

It ain’t over yet.