Besieged from many directions, the EPO can’t just ignore bad news, only attempt to bury these by manufacturing ‘good’ (somewhat faked) messages to be embedded in news sites
Summary: A roundup of this week’s news (with focus on late week in particular), serving to show what the EPO’s management is really up against when it comes to shifting public opinion
Benoît Battistelli’s EPO has paid truly outrageous amounts of money to seed the press with positive publicity. It’s more or less clear why Battistelli wants and needs that. The EPO has become a byword for gross institutional abuse not just in Europe but internationally. Battistelli paid nearly a million dollars for an international firm (based in Washington) to whitewash the EPO in a period of one year. That’s almost $100,000 a month in out-of-the-ordinary (additional) PR budget. Good use of budget? What next, private limousines for Battistelli? There are rumours that he wants these too, having gotten tired of just private bodyguards.
Battistelli’s focus (as of late) on PR has been rather gross or crude. The greenwashing aside (it’s now a fortnight old), there is the “compliance” spin right now. Here is a new puff piece derived from this EPO spin, as covered here the other day. What is this, “media presence” again?
“The EPO has become a byword for gross institutional abuse not just in Europe but internationally.”Let’s look at some real news, not regurgitation of official press releases (seeded in
epo.org and probably sent en masse to thousands of lazy journalists all across Europe). After the press release about the Unitary Patent (which the EPO openly lobbies for) we even found this article whose headline can be translated into “Unitary patent system in the EU on the spot” (according to EPO). Is this the desired outcome of the PR campaign? Either way, it only tells part of the story and is an effort at self-fulfilling prophecies.
Days ago in PTAB Watch we spotted this article which said: “With respect to the European patent, despite the acknowledgement by the PTAB that laws and rules are different in Europe, and a previous PTAB decision (Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. v. Emerachem Holdings, LLC, Case IPR2014-01557, slip op. at 15 (PTAB Mar. 16, 2015) (Paper 13)) that held that whatever happened in the European Patent Office (“EPO”) is essentially irrelevant, the Board determined that the European prosecution history evidence was probative of whether a cited reference is analogous art to the patent under review, and admitted the evidence for this limited purpose. The Board also determined that the post-dated publications submitted in District Court litigation that discussed terms and features recited in the claims were relevant to show how the Patent Owner had been interpreting its claims during proceedings to enforce the patent.”
“The thing about the EPO is, it’s going nowhere fast and heading into irrelevancy.”The significance of this in light the recent events and the context (see full article for details) is that there’s not much respect for the EPO’s judgment. As the article put it, “whatever happened in the European Patent Office (“EPO”) is essentially irrelevant” (irrelevancy or irrelevance imply there is no perceived superiority over the decisions or judgments in the US).
The thing about the EPO is, it’s going nowhere fast and heading into irrelevancy. Battistelli has accelerated this by orders of magnitude because the dysfunction increased in many areas (or aspects) and new areas of dispute emerged; it used to be mostly about patent scope. Not many people would bother pursuing patents at the EPO unless it maintains a high enough quality to justify the high cost. The EPO charges a lot of money (application and renewal fees from applicants) for several examiners to examine together/simultaneously, but the Office still rushes the process (speed over accuracy). No wonder EPO patents such as those granted to Apple are later -- once scrutinised by a court -- get invalidated. It serves to show that Battiselli’s approach shames the Office and harms its reputation.
“19 years to be granted a patent!”Eversheds International, an international legal practice, mentioned the EPO a couple of times yesterday [1, 2], reminding us of Baxter's notorious patent application at the EPO.
Eversheds wrote: “The patent was only granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) on 27 November 2013, despite having been filed on 9 July 1994, with a priority date of 19 July 1993. The extraordinarily long examination stage (19 years), meant that the period of effective patent protection was less than 1 year. Had a SPC been granted, its duration would have been approximately 3.5 years, a highly desirable extension to the term of patent protection.”
“In Twitter too we were told by lawyers about patents which took two decades to process, so the above is not an isolated incident.”19 years to be granted a patent! Some people complain about applications taking ten years. In Twitter too we were told by lawyers about patents which took two decades to process, so the above is not an isolated incident. People right here in the UK experience the same thing when they apply at the EPO.
More interesting in the media right now is actually the response of (real) journalists to this statement from the Parliament. The EPO is under attack from the European Parliament because it compromised patent scope/quality for the sake of short-term profit.
One new article says: “A ban on the patenting of products obtained by conventional breeding techniques, such as crossing, is essential to sustain innovation, food security and small businesses, says a non-legislative resolution voted by the European Parliament on 17 December.”
“This is a good example of patent scope gone awry for the sake of profit and protectionism for large corporations such as Monsanto.”EPO is being shamed in this article, which is one among many (some non-English sites have covered this too). EUbusiness wrote about it and noted that “No Patents on Seeds! is an international coalition of civil society organisations. It recently published a report containing an overview of patents granted by the EPO and a legal analysis. The report further highlights the need for more political action.
“The call made by the international coalition No Patents on Seeds! to stop these patents has the support of several hundred organisations all over Europe. The coalition No Patents on Seeds! is supported by Arche Noah (Austria), Bionext (Netherlands), The Berne Declaration (Switzerland), GeneWatch (UK), Greenpeace, Misereor (Germany), Development Fund (Norway), NOAH (Denmark), No Patents on Life (Germany), ProSpecieRara (Switzerland), Red de Semillas (Spain), Rete Semi Rurali (Italy), Reseau Semences Paysannes (France) and Swissaid (Switzerland). They are all calling for a revision of European Patent Law to exclude breeding material, breeding processes, plants and animals, their characteristics, their genetic components, the harvest and food derived thereof from patentability.”
“The latter involves Gillette, so we cannot help recalling the intervention of Željko Topić regarding razor blades in Croatia.”This is a good example of patent scope gone awry for the sake of profit and protectionism for large corporations such as Monsanto. Some companies are now spreading press releases about EPO patents on drugs and there are articles about US patents as they’re being used for protectionism and monopoly (to protect a notorious business model). The latter involves Gillette, so we cannot help recalling the intervention of Željko Topić regarding razor blades in Croatia. █
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Team Battistelli (high-level EPO management) is trying to shoot — metaphorically like a sniper — Elizabeth Hardon, a staff representative (apparently a “major proposal”)
Summary: Sessions of the Administrative Council dissected; Reports from the Office serve to show how grim things have become for all staff unions, not just SUEPO
FOR anyone still in doubt about Benoît Battistelli’s megalomania, we humbly suggest the first, second and third part of this ongoing series (together with the teaser) as preparatory reading. The EPO has become somewhat of a laughing stock because the President of the EPO not only stomps on the law but also brags about it. That’s the hallmark of sadistic tyrants — those who view themselves as kings of the universe (which nobody is allowed to disagree with, no matter how high up). Famous examples include Stalin, who made a habit of ‘vanishing’ his perceived opposition.
“Il faudrait un tremblement de terre pour que le conseil d’administration, où chacun des 35 États membres a une voix, n’accorde pas son soutien aux propositions majeures.”
–Benoît BattistelliToday’s situation report, which is circulating among EPO staff, reveals how atrocious things have become inside the EPO. It begins with a quote from the infamous Usine Nouvelle interview from 2012 where Battistelli bragged how free of any constraints he is. Or in other words, how totally unaccountable he is. To quote the original (in French): «Il faudrait un tremblement de terre pour que le conseil d’administration, où chacun des 35 États membres a une voix, n’accorde pas son soutien aux propositions majeures.»
That’s from Battistelli’s own mouth. Translation from French-speaking people (whom we have been in touch with) would be: “An earthquake would be needed for the Administrative Council, where each of the 35 member states has one vote, not to support my major proposals.”
Amazing, isn’t it? Until you consider what Battistelli’s character is like…
Based on some comments that we are seeing in IP Kat right now, Team Battistelli is fast-tracking the union-busting ahead of Christmas, even a week ahead of Christmas Eve.
One recent comment says: “Battistelli was told by the council to renew social dialogue and stop harassing the representatives of the personal and he was, apparently, told privately by the French and Dutch delegations to stop the ongoing disciplinary procedures but he is still in post. What will he do next?
“There are 3 members of the staff union who are attacked in Munich. I think that all 3 hearings have been rushed through this week, so that the president can publish his 3 decisions before the end of the year. From what has been published from the procedure, it is obvious that this is a mock trial. There are simply too many procedural violations for the procedure to be believable.
“Battistelli was told by the council to renew social dialogue and stop harassing the representatives of the personal and he was, apparently, told privately by the French and Dutch delegations to stop the ongoing disciplinary procedures but he is still in post.”
–Anonymous“Will the president do what he was told by the council, stop the disciplinary procedures and reintegrate the 3 representatives? Or will he show the council that they are powerless to stop him and fire all 3 nevertheless?
“He can stop the disciplinary procedures, the service regulations allow him to do so. The disciplinary committees can find all 3 guilty, the president is still allowed to ignore their findings and reintegrate the 3 representatives. This is what he was explicitly instructed to do so any other decision will be contrary to the instructions of the council.”
Battistelli has been trying to halt communications so that they can do mock trials in secret. As another commenter put it: “What a pity that Merkel has failed to report on a fifth “remarkable” letter:
“Battistelli has been trying to halt communications so that they can do mock trials in secret.”“Namely, the “warning letter” sent by the President of the EPO to the Chair of the Presidium (VP3) telling him to be careful about contacts between the Presidium and the AC which had not received prior authorisation from the President of the EPO.
“Now that’s a letter that would make interesting reading.”
Remember how politely the Presidium of the Boards put it. It has since then been cited by at least 3 formal complaint letters [1, 2, 3].
Based on the latest comments in IP Kat, some people are still not sure what happened in the meetings/sessions which started and ended this week. We have some yet-unverified claims (pertaining to boards and unions), but based on the following report, this is what actually happened and it’s similar to what commenters in IP Kat had predicted:
Fact is that during this Session, the AC has unambiguously criticised and NOT “given its support” to no less than 3 “major proposals”:
1. …the opening speech gave the opportunity to delegations to express their disagreement with the analysis of the President on the situation in the Office
2. the Tax-adjustment was purely and simply rejected
3. the paper on Orientations for the structural reform of the EPO Boards of Appeal was purely removed overnight from the agenda (see point II)
4. even the review of the service regulation did not make it on the agenda and an overnight reworked revised version was only accepted after controversial discussions
It may not solve our urgent problems directly but the above seems to indicate that if not an earthquake, major tremors have emanated from the AC epicentre.
After 3 AC sessions during which delegations expressed subtle warnings though means of abstentions and critical remark, their message is now less diplomatic and this president has been stopped for the first time ever.
One can hope that clear instructions have also been issued by the AC regarding how to deal with the staff, the staff representation and the suspended colleagues, as some of the statements in plenum seem to indicate, but nothing is less than sure. And one can hope that the powerful will not vent their frustration on those the powerless staff they administer (see point IV below).
II- DG3 reforms: “Gimme that toy before you break it entirely…”
As mentioned above, after the Confidential session, the reform was removed from the agenda and replaced by an exchange of view in plenum. It essentially suggests that the B28 is put in charge of this dossier and comes, after another consultation, with a reviewed proposal.
Surprisingly, it is the Swiss delegation by the voice of Mr. Grossenbacher, that seems to have taken the lead* in reformulating the reform proposal. As a side note, it is remarkable, since the present administration is the very product of this powerful man sitting a AC president for years and who has initially suggested the whole HR reforms and what many call and “autocratic” management style rolled out by the present administration: a “Brutus-situation” the other way around?
In essence, the proposal seemingly should be refocused on the following elements (to paraphrase the Swiss delegate):
1. “The seat issue is less important. It appears to us irrelevant. The Boards of Appeal can stay where they are, in the Isar building. This costs nothing and does not harm the independence.“
2. They suggest “to exclude The Cooling-Off Period”, preventing employment after EPO life.
3. For the appointment and reappointment of DG3 members, the right of appointment must be transferred to the President of the Board of Appeal.
4. The Rules of Procedure should not be proposed by the Office President.
5. The budget should be prepared to be then submitted to the Council as in CA/16/15
6. The Board of Appeal Committee should be established by the Council alone. The Committee serves to foster dialogue. The decisions should be taken by the Council. Six members should have the Committee, three by the Council and three from the Boards of Appeal. No observer, but the President of the Boards of Appeal and others can be invited.
7. The wage system should be committed to performance however, the modalities of which should be worked on later however, handling should remain solely with the President of the Boards of Appeal.
8. The timeframe: new proposal by March 2016.
It is too early to comment on the new direction but so much seems clear: it seems to have changed towards insuring truly more independence. However, in the light on the complexity of the issue we can simply wish them good luck with this challenging timetable.
III- Suspense and suspension: ad vitam eternam is removed but…
The original reform proposal regulating the suspension of staff (Art.95, planned by Mr. Battistelli to be without limitation in time) was replaced overnight. The revised version tabled lead to somewhat confused or confusing discussions in plenum as the new wording was discovered by many during the session. The final document can be found now on MICADO.
In essence, the delegations recognised the problem with having a 4 months time-limit for employees nominated by the AC, which seems incompatible with the rhythm of 3 to 4 planned plenary sessions per year but seem to have understood that the removal of any maximum time limit is abusive. It is thus suggested to keep the 4 months for all staff and as a compromise change it to up to 24 months for appointees of the AC. In how far, such a legal uncertainty for a judge is seen as adequate by the delegations seems well above my pay-grade…
On the retroactivity on running cases – which leads this reform to be dubbed by some outside observers as a special rule exclusively targeting the suspended DG3 judge – the debate was heated: some delegations considered the legality of such a proposal “questionable” and in fine, it led to DE and NL to vote against the proposal. All considered, the proposal found a large majority with 32 in favour, 2 against (DE, NL) and 4 abstentions (GR, SK, SE, FR).
IV- Lost in suspension: “and the winner is…”
Wednesday and Thursday the Member States representatives made certainly a remarkable step towards taking concrete actions. Today is Friday and “real-life” goes on with its train of bad news… The dust has not settled yet and the Disciplinary Committees are taking the next steps on very practical cases, touching the lives of colleagues who should be focusing on Christmas and their families or friends instead.
The bad news is that the Disciplinary committees seem to work as if nothing happened. In the first concrete case of Ms. Elizabeth Hardon the recommendation has fallen and is unambiguous. We can unfortunately expect her dismissal at short notice. Under these conditions, little hope remains for the other two colleagues who are still expecting terrific news.
The next week will tell us if the president has been given clear instructions or only polite indications during the Administrative Council.
But honestly, hope is slim that these colleagues are given a chance to a fair trial given the procedure so far.
V- Personal comments: it can’t go on like this, this is not a life!
[...] the staff representation office-wide has been decimated and many of its actors are getting at a point where they are either sick, suspended, resigned or Els(e)… This cannot go on.
Statistically spoken, as can be seen from the paper “Social Democracy: Staff Representation dismantling is on track!” we used to have ca. 200 staff members working on behalf of Staff representation in the past with an average of ca. 40 men years. It represented in 2012 a total of 8900 days, e.g. a yearly 1,2 day per staff member. Now the December Dashboard shows EXCATLY 3281 days, e.g. less than 0,46 day per staff member. Such statistics mean preciously little when you live it but they can be a pale indication to an outsider.
The EPO makes no secret of the fact that it not interested in the Staff opinion and even less its staff representation but everybody knows that already.
That fact per se is dangerous enough for any institution. Evolution has shown that an organism without feedback loops is bound to fail.
My opinion is to let people work under these conditions is grossly negligent.
And, as in the above mentioned cases, attacking them at the same me is purely and simply criminal. (if not legally than at least morally)
In short, it seems likely that the EPO will officially fire a staff representative for allegedly speaking to a blogger (not me), allegedly speaking to a judge, and something about "sniper" (just a cheap personal attack on the accused). This serves as a warning shot or — pardon the pun — sniping of a staff representative to scare all others. If this doesn’t constitute union-busting, what is?
“Battistelli was trouble for the EPO all along.”Battistelli must be furious that his power over the delegates is rapidly eroding, so he looks for a scapegoat and tries to demonstrate his alleged superpower in order to restore his old reign of terror. History teaches that moves such as these are short-lived and doomed to fail. But who are the sacrificial lambs to be martyred?
Battistelli was trouble for the EPO all along. It’s him and his new high-level recruits that need to go, not the decades-long representatives of staff, whose endorsement/popularity among staff was very much evident in recent public protests. █
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Summary: A deeper look at Benoît Battistelli’s ÉNA connections, rise to power at the EPO, and the “two Alpha males in the room [who] don’t always listen,” according to Alison Brimelow (the previous President) before she stepped down
THE first and second part of this series (together with the teaser) highlighted the concentration of power around current (not just former) EPO President, Mr. Battistelli. We went back in time to his INPI days and also some of his professional connections, education (ÉNA), etc. We are hoping to show readers what makes Battistelli so confident and unafraid of public scrutiny. This series will culminate in the fourth part (next week), so today we hope to just share some input we have received during the week, in response to the first couple of parts.
One E-mail referred to EPO-ÉNA overlap. It told me, “thank you for the excellent investigation work. Here a document that may be of interest.”
It’s about Pierre Mendès France and ÉNA-based promotions (janvier 1976/mai 1978). Looking at the English article in Wikipedia, he was somewhat of an anti-imperialism person and this Wikipedia article speaks about École nationale d’administration role in promotion of all sorts of people. Among the notable alumni or connections which we had listed to us were the following individuals (which would probably mean something mostly to our French readers):
M. Ronny ABRAHAM
M. Jérôme ADAM
M. Jack ALZON
M. François ARCANGELI
M. Jacques ARRIGHI-DE-CASANOVA
M. Jean-François AUBY
M. Marc-Antoine AUTHEMAN
M. Jean-Marie AUVINET-Jean-Marie
M. Dominique BABIN-Dominique
M. Bertrand BACHE-Bertrand
M. Jacques BACHELIN-Jacques
M. Claude BALLADE-Claude
M. Jean-François BALTHAZAR-Jean-Francois
M. Eric BARRAULT-Eric
M. François BARRY-MARTIN-DELONGCHAMPS-Francois
Mme Christine BARTHET
M. Benoît BATTISTELLI-Benoit
M. Edouard BERLET-Edouard
M. Georges BERTHU-Georges
Mme Geneviève BERTRAND-Genevieve
M. Pierre-Etienne BISCH-Pierre-Etienne
M. Henri-Charles BLANC-Henri-Charles
M. Xavier BLANDIN-Xavier
M. Pierre BLAYAU-Pierre
M. Jean-François BOITTIN-Jean-Francois
M. Claude BONNET-Claude
M. Alain BOROWSKI-Alain
M. Alain BOURDELAT-Alain
M. Antoine BOUSQUET-Antoine
M. Hervé BREHIER-Herve
M. François BURDEYRON-Francois
M. Daniel CADOUX-Daniel
M. Philippe CALAVIA-Philippe
M. Daniel CANEPA-Daniel
M. Paul-Marie CHAVANNE-Paul-Marie
M. Bernard COCHEME-Bernard
M. Etienne COFFIN-Etienne
M. Charles COPPOLANI-Charles
M. Jean-Paul CORDEAU-Jean-Paul
M. Jean-François CORDET-Jean-Francois
M. Jean-Paul COSTE-Jean-Paul
M. François COUSIN-Francois
M. Henry CUNY-Henry
Mme Yvonne CUVIER-Yvonne
M. Henri-Jérôme DEGRELLE
M. Yann DELABRIERE-Yann
M. Dominique DELAUNAY-Dominique
M. Denis DELBOURG-Denis
Mme Marie-Christine DEMORTIER-Marie-Christine
M. Philippe DESLANDES-Philippe
M. François DESPORTES-Francois
M. Christian DIDIER-Christian
M. Robert DOMENGET-Robert
M. Francis DOUBLET-Francis
M. Alain DOYELLE-Alain
M. Michel DUCLOS-Michel
M. Jean-Michel DUMOND-Jean-Michel
M. Jean-Yves DUPUIS-Jean-Yves
M. Patrice DURAND-Patrice
M. Pierre DUVERNEY-GUICHARD
M. Jean-Marc ESPALIOUX-Jean-Marc
M. Bela FARAGO-Bela
M. Pascal FATON-Pascal
M. Gilbert FAUBERT
M. Claude FAURE-Claude
M. Guillaume FERRY-Guillaume-de
M. René FORCEVILLE-Rene
M. Patrice FORGET-Patrice
M. Christian FORMAGNE-Christian
M. José FRECHES-Jose
Mme Anne-Marie FROMENT-MEURICE-Anne-Marie
Mme Michèle GALLOT-Michele
M. Antoine GEORGES-PICOT-Antoine
M. Jacques GERARD-Jacques
M. Michel GIES-Michel
M. Eric GIUILY-Eric
M. Jean-Noël GIULIANI-Jean-Noel
M. Christian GOURNAY-Christian-de
M. Philippe GREGOIRE-Philippe
M. Serge GROSS-Serge
Mme Annick GUERBER-LE-GALL-Annick
Mme Isabelle HAUSSER-DUCLOS-Isabelle
M. Jean-Pierre HEMMERY-Jean-Pierre
M. Paul HERMELIN-Paul
Mme Véronique HESPEL-Veronique
M. François JACLOT-Francois
M. Bruno JOUBERT-Bruno,3080>)
M. Jean-François KRAFT-Jean-Francois
M. Louis KREISS-Louis
M. Antoine LABBE-Antoine
M. Bruno LASSERRE-Bruno
M. Michel LAVENSEAU-Michel
Mme Bettina LAVILLE-Bettina
M. Jean-Pierre LE COURT
M. Alain LEFOULON-Alain
M. Hervé LEHERISSEL-Herve
M. Bernard LEMAIRE-Bernard
M. François LE-PULOCH-Francois
M. Bertrand LEROY-Bertrand
M. Pierre LETOCART-Pierre
Mme Marianne LEVY-ROSENWALD-Marianne
M. Denis LOUDENOT-Denis
M. Yves MAGNE-Yves
M. Etienne MARIE-Etienne
M. Jean-Michel MARLAUD-Jean-Michel
M. Yves MARMION-Yves
M. Arsène MATTY-Arsene
M. Gérard MESTRALLET-Gerard
Mme Bénédicte MONROE-Benedicte
M. Gérard MOULIN-Gerard
Mme Monique MOUSSEAU-Monique
M. Henri ODART-DE-RILLY-DOYSONVILLE-Henri
M. Patrick OLIVIER-Patrick
M. Marc OLLIVIER-Marc
Mme Dominique PAGANT-Dominique
M. Bernard PAYS-Bernard
M. Michel PELISSIER-Michel
M. Jacques PERREAULT-Jacques
M. René PICON-DUPRE-Rene
M. Michel PINAULDT-Michel
M. Marc PINGUET-Marc
M. Bertrand POPLU-Bertrand
Mme Bérengère QUINCY-Berengere
M. Bruno RAIFAUD-Bruno
M. Gérard RAMEIX-Gerard
M. Philippe REY-Philippe
M. Claude REYNOIRD-Claude
M. Jean de RIBES-Jean-de
M. François RIEGERT-Francois
M. Yvon ROE-DALBERT-Yvon
M. Patrick ROUSSEL-Patrick
M. François ROUSSELY-Francois
M. Jacques ROUVIERE-Jacques
M. Alexis RUSET-Alexis
M. Gilles SANSON-Gilles
M. Thierry SCHWARZ-Thierry
Mme Marie-Paule SERRE-Marie-Paule
M. Hervé SOULIE-Herve
M. Pierre SOUTOU-Pierre
M. Jean-François STOLL-Jean-Francois
Mme Muriel SZILBER de SZILBEREKY-Muriel
Mme Annie TARGA-Annie
M. Yves TERRASSE-Yves
M. Jean-Marc TEULIERES-Jean-Marc
M. Bertrand THONNARD DU TEMPLE (Bernard ?)
M. Hervé THOUROUDE-Herve
M. Henri TOUTEE-Henri
M. Michel TOUVEREY-Michel
M. Jean-Maurice VERBOIS-Jean-Maurice
M. Jean-Louis VERGNOLLE-Jean-Louis
M. François VEVERKA-Francois
M. Philippe de VILLIERS-Philippe
M. Claude WARNET-Claude
M. Philippe ZELLER-Philippe
French readers have been writing to us about École nationale d’administration (always in relation to Battistelli). They have done so for well over a year now. Very well-educated individuals are wary and concerned about the role that École nationale d’administration plays in French and international politics. Sources for the above names include, e.g. [1, 2]. In case any of our French-speaking readers can add some context about the relation (if any) of the above individuals to the European Parliament, EPO and/or Battistelli, we would very much appreciate it, in preparation for this series’ finale.
“I wanted to send you some background snippets about Battistelli,” one reader told us, “in particular public blog entries circa 2010 deploring the horse trading that surrounded his election, as well as his immediate predecessors’.
“Still need to get this in shape,” the reader added, “it’s not a lot, but it would complete the picture. There was also Alison Brimelow’s in-house announcement that she wouldn’t seek reelection in 2010. The text mentioned “two alpha males” in the AC/Board28 which made her life difficult. There should be very little doubt about the identity of one of them…”
Consider how Battistelli treats delegates who aren't 100% in agreement with him.
“The other target of Mrs. Brimelow’s comment could be either Roland Grossenbacher [Switzerland], or Jesper Kongstad [Denmark], but I’m not 100% sure.”
We would like to add, referring back to the second part of this series, that there are indirect connections between a former President (Alain Pompidou) and Battistelli. The main connection is in French high society and implicates Christine Lagarde.
A reader remarked on our previous article by saying: “Regarding your characterisation of the École nationale d’administration as something of a “school for spoiled rich brats”, a sort of Gallic “Bullingdon club”: I think this appraisal is quite a bit off the mark, and requires qualification.
“The ÉNA’s purpose is to be an elite school for producing elite public administrators. As the title of a French TV film suggests, it is an “école du pouvoir” – a place where you learn to wield power.
“It was a fictionalised story on the ascent of a few twentysomethings of Battistelli’s generation in the late 1970s, whose profiles resembled those of the likes of François Hollande, Ségolène Royal or Dominique de Villepin.
“Incidentally, the British script-writer Kosminsky once made a film on Tony Blair’s rise to power, and Haitian director Peck films about the infamous Tontons Macoutes or the murder of Patrice Lumumba.
“It is somewhat comparable to a business school like Harvard or Wharton, or certain Oxbridge schools as a ticket to a career in Whitehall.
“To get in the ÉNA, you must get through a grueling set of examinations, and once you’re in you’re quite literally in a rat race for the best exit ranking, decided on hidden and arbitrary criteria, but which could let you choose the plummest jobs available in the civil service.
“This kind of place does attract people who viscerally like power and/or money. Did I write “striver”? Sorry… It is also accused of breeding conformism.
“Is this Battistelli’s vision for the EPO?
“Several books, have been written on this institution, and their tone is usually very critical. I particularly like the title of a recent one by an ÉNA graduate: “Promotion Ubu Roi“, which incidentally echoes one of Battistelli’s many in-house nicknames “Ubustelli”.
“Having money to begin with doesn’t help per se, but to an offspring of teachers or ÉNA alumni does. This is essentially an example of what sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called “reproduction sociale”.
“The formal teaching curriculum of the two-year program is widely judged to be utterly worthless. What you really learn in the various paid internships are people, networking, behavioural codes and the human pecking order. And possibly a certain ruthlessness…
“To get in you can sit one of two entrance examinations, one for people who are already in the civil service, and another one who are external candidates that come either straight out of university or have professional experience. There are apparently special rules which dispense the candidate of some requirements if he is already a graduate of some other French elite school.
“Battistelli first attended “Sciences Po”, which translates to “Institute for Political Studies”. It is regarded as the standard path to get into ÉNA.
“I see it as a kind of university-level prep school. Even though the education there is generally good in its own right, a science/technical school it is definitively not.”
Putting ÉNA aside for the moment, it’s worth getting deeper into the days of Battistelli’s appointment.
“Alison Brimelow’s in-house blog announcement,” told us one source, can possibly be retrieved “from early May 2009.” If someone can send it to us the original, that would be valuable. In it, we’re told, “there was no greeting or introduction, that’s the way it went” (below).
Well, I broke the news to a rather surprised Board 28 on Wednesday before the start of the formal agenda…the chair asked ‘why are you telling us today?’ which in turn surprised me, and I said ‘Because there is a Board 28 meeting…’ The concept of parallel universes came to mind, not for the first time in my experience of the EPO.
First, thank you for the many kind and understanding reactions to the news. But I also hear that the brevity of my announcement has upset/puzzled some of you. Well, first I like brevity. Second, whatever I might have added, the speculation and embroidering would have carried on, so I thought I might as well leave room for it. Any major decision like this rests on a collection of ‘pro x’ and ‘anti x’ issues and turning that into a simple ‘because ‘ is in my view pointless, and misleading.
The Board 28 was pretty difficult, because we have two Alpha males in the room and they don’t always listen. There is also a feeling that for now at least short term taken precedence over the strategic. But other members are more helpful and supportive. The fact is that Member States have strongly divergent views on funding, but some deny that this is the case. That offers the office some room for manoeuvre.
In the evening I went to the ballet, because I foresaw that I might benefit from some diversion at the end of such a day. It was ‘Le Corsaire’, and absolutely wonderful. The Staatsballett is fortunate in having some very strong dancers, especially the men, and the ballet showed all their talent and energy. Having a lively sense of humour however, I couldn’t avoid being reminded of Pirates of the Caribbean. Somebody told me today, ‘the good thing about ballet is that you can’t hear the words’…perhaps a lesson here for life in the European Patent Organisation? Concentrate on what happens, not what is said.
Talking of hearing words, Thursday ended with the well attended Europatag at the Isar Building, and my speech was about working together in difficult times. Indeed.
Enjoy the weekend.
“Alpha males,” as Brimelow called them, will be the subject of our next post (outside this series). █
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