Ousting of Benoît Battistelli Next Week Seems Feasible, But Jesper Kongstad Protects Rather Than Supervises Battistelli
Summary: The latest developments that are going on behind the scenes and may soon culminate in removal of the EPO’s immunity, if not the ousting of Battistelli and the “swamp” he brought with him as well
OUR original article about Bert Koenders (his strong words for the EPO) has received a lot of attention, including some from the Dutch media. Koenders is not just some ordinary Dutch politician — many of whom complain about the EPO too, notably John Kerstens — as Koenders is the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs. Other top officials have already lashed out at the EPO and who can forget Battistelli evacuating a meeting with one of them?
We have just caught up with this comment that says: “Here is a copy in english of the Letter from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Bert Koenders, dated 23 February 2017 to the Chair of the House of Representatives. about the conversation with the Vice President of the EPO.”
This links to SUEPO, which earlier today wrote:
Letter from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Bert Koenders, dated 23 February 2017 to the Chair of the House of Representatives.
The original letter is in Dutch. Translations in English, German and French are available.
Here is SUEPO’s English translation:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
To the Chair of the
House of Representatives
2594 AC Den Haag
Date 23 February 2017
Re. Conversation with Vice President of European Patent Office
I hereby inform your House, in accordance with my commitment in the general meeting of the standing committee on Foreign Affairs regarding diplomatic immunity on 14 December 2016, of my conversation with Mr Minnoye, Vice President of the European Patent Office (EPO), which took place on 30 January 2017.
Part of this conversation was about the ruling of the Supreme Court on 20 January 2017, in which the immunity of the organisation was confirmed. The Netherlands respects the immunity of the EPO, along with the other intergovernmental organisations that are based here. This immunity does not prevent the host country from entering into conversation with the management of the EPO regarding the continuing unrest between the management and staff at the EPO. Particularly now that this unrest has become part of public and political debate.
In this context, I informed Mr Minnoye that the internal unrest has been going on for too long and that the situation now needs to improve quickly. In order to make a rapid start to restoring trust between the management and staff, the proposal is to resume constructive social dialogue and to introduce a number of trust-building measures in the very short term, based among other things on the Social Study:
- Including external parties in the internal complaint procedure, so that this procedure is experienced as impartial and independent by the staff;
- Reconsideration of the disciplinary measures implemented with respect to certain trade-union members.
Finally, on the basis of my host-country responsibility, I indicated that the EPO can call on the host country when it comes to support for initiatives that contribute to ending the current situation of unrest.
Mr Minnoye indicated that attempts are currently being made to commence a positive dialogue with the staff in various ways. As an example, he cited the townhall meetings that recently took place. Vice President Minnoye expressed the hope and expectation that the organisation will be entering calmer waters soon.
I stated that I share this hope, but added an important note: If there is no clear improvement in the industrial relations within the EPO in the short term, I see no other option but the discussion of the situation at a high political level with the member states of the European Patent Organisation.
I will continue to monitor this dossier closely in accordance with the host-country responsibility and will continue to urge Vice President Minnoye to improve the situation within the EPO.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs,
With just 5 or so days before the Administrative Council gathers things are heating up again. SUEPO has taken note of this morning’s article titled “Euro nations push for vote to axe Europe’s patent office president” (from The Register).
The Chinchilla Man of the Council, Jesper Kongstad, is trying to save his master, whom he was in theory supposed to master. Here are a couple of portions from the report:
European governments have finally had enough of the head of the European Patent Office, Benoit Battistelli, and are pushing for a vote that could turn him into a lame duck president.
The EPO’s Administrative Council is due to meet in Munich next week and on the agenda is a discussion over the appointment of a new president of the EPO.
In particular, the council is due to discuss publication of a vacancy notice for the job – something that would start the ball rolling on finding a successor to Battistelli in July 2018, and would immediately limit his ability to force through changes.
Although the agenda point is labeled “opn” rather than “dec,” meaning that only discussion will take place rather than a vote and a decision, chair of the council Jesper Kongstad has already leapt into action, insiders tells us, in an effort to undermine the effort to oust Battistelli.
That difference between 50 per cent and 66 per cent is the only thing that is keeping Battistelli in office. There have been repeated efforts by some European countries to pressure Battistelli to back down on his aggressive reforms at the EPO, and his intimidation and – critics argue – persecution of those who have stood up to him. But it has never been possible to get a majority of the council to vote him out.
An interesting comment on the above says: “What if the council were to first propose a vacancy for the chairman ?”
Battistelli’s departure would certainly not be enough as the whole Organisation (especially at the top) has been thoroughly compromised. “Bring back Madame la Guillotine!” is the comment from one anonymous person, to which to reply was, “I’ve got a list.” █