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05.29.18

St. Germain’s “Système Lamy” and Its EPO Clone – Part 1: Rubber-stamp Committees and Secret Meetings

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lamy SIDRU voting

Summary: A look at the parallels between the notorious governance style of Emmanuel Lamy (above) and that of Benoît Battistelli at the EPO

A recent Techrights posting drew attention to the reputed influence of the “Système Lamy” in St. Germain-en Laye on the “Système Battistelli” at the EPO and posed the question whether the political culture of Battistelli’s hometown in France had contaminated the governance of the EPO.

Further research on this topic has confirmed the existence of striking similarities between the management style of the ENArque Battistelli at the EPO and the functioning of the municipal “political machine” operated in St. Germain-en-Laye for decades by his fellow ENArque and political mentor, the late Emmanuel Lamy.

Indeed the similarities are so pronounced that one could almost speak of a clone of the “Système Lamy” at the EPO.

The operational methods of both “systems” include a number of key characterising features such as:

  • Reducing oversight bodies to “rubber-stamp committees”
  • Suppression of open debate and transparency
  • Controlling and manipulating the flow of information
  • Shooting the messenger and defaming opponents
  • Disclaiming responsibility for one’s own mistakes and projecting the blame onto others

We propose to look at the above operational methods in more detail and give some specific examples to let readers form their own opinion.

Reducing oversight bodies to “rubber-stamp committees”

In an interview given to the local press during the 2014 municipal election campaign, Anne Gommier of the conservative opposition group Agir pour Saint-Germain expressed a general dissatisfaction with Lamy’s style of governance in St. Germain-en-Laye.

“Indeed the similarities are so pronounced that one could almost speak of a clone of the “Système Lamy” at the EPO.”Amongst other things she spoke of an unacceptable “disconnect” with the local populace as well as problems with a lack of transparency and consultation. She also deplored the way in which the municipal council had been degraded to a rubber-stamp committee: “Le conseil municipal est une chambre d’enregistrement”.

See the article (in French)Municipales : une dissidente en lice à Saint-Germain-en-Laye“.

It should be noted here that Gommier served as a Deputy Mayor under Lamy from 2008 to 2014 and was speaking from first-hand experience of his modus operandi.

“In an interview given to the local press during the 2014 municipal election campaign, Anne Gommier of the conservative opposition group Agir pour Saint-Germain expressed a general dissatisfaction with Lamy’s style of governance in St. Germain-en-Laye.”Gommier’s criticisms were echoed by another conservative dissident, Yves Maillard, who also ran as a candidate in the 2014 municipal elections and expressed similar views in the local press:

“The purpose of my action and my project is to strengthen local democracy, he says. What frustrates me in our operations is that the mayor [i.e. Lamy] is capable of acting like a patriarch at the head of a family business. He listens to all sides but the decision will be made by a small committee and the group as a whole is presented with a fait accompli. There’s not going to be any debate. For me, this is not democracy. During the current mandate I have not seen a single decision that has been the result of a debate. The council is a rubber-stamp committee.”

See the article (in French)Municipales. Yves Maillard veut raviver la démocratie locale“.

“It should be noted here that Gommier served as a Deputy Mayor under Lamy from 2008 to 2014 and was speaking from first-hand experience of his modus operandi.”Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era should have no difficulty in recognising the parallels, in particular the way in which Battistelli successfully reduced the EPO’s various statutory bodies including its governing body, the Administrative Council, to mere “rubber-stamp committees”.

With regard to Battistelli’s control of the Administrative Council it should be noted that here he managed to surpass his mentor Lamy. During the period in question Battistelli was not the head of the EPO’s Administrative Council but was — at least on paper — subject to its authority. This was truly a most spectacular case of the “tail wagging the dog”!

The tail wagging the dog

Suppression of open debate and public scrutiny

“Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era should have no difficulty in recognising the parallels, in particular the way in which Battistelli successfully reduced the EPO’s various statutory bodies including its governing body, the Administrative Council, to mere “rubber-stamp committees”.”Both Lamy and Battistelli have shown themselves to be masters at suppressing open debate and public scrutiny.

A favourite tactic of Lamy was to declare meetings of public bodies such as the municipal council of St. Germain or the executive committee of SIDRU to be “closed sessions” due to the discussion of allegedly confidential matters.

Behind closed doors

For example, as the “toxic loan” problems at SIDRU were becoming the subject of public concern in 2013, Lamy managed to have an important public meeting of the intercommunal executive committee declared a “closed session” as reported in the local newspaper Courrier des Yvelines on 23 January 2013 [PDF]. This resulted in the exclusion of the press and members of the local opposition group who were in attendance as public observers.

“A favourite tactic of Lamy was to declare meetings of public bodies such as the municipal council of St. Germain or the executive committee of SIDRU to be “closed sessions” due to the discussion of allegedly confidential matters.”See the blog post (in French)Débat d’orientation budgétaire du SIDRU: la presse et l’opposition expulsées de la salle !

A video of the opening of the meeting showing the vote in favour of a closed session on a proposal from Lamy can be seen here.

SIDRU, Committee meeting of 16 January 2013

Request for a closed meeting by union president Emmanuel Lamy (UMP).

Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines): Meeting of the Committee of the urban waste disposal union (SIDRU). This is a public meeting of which we usually put the most notable passages online, as the law allows. For the second time, the SIDRU executive requested that the meeting be held behind closed doors, so that the debates would not be filmed. The journalists and the municipal opposition of Saint-Germain were therefore expelled.

“For example, as the “toxic loan” problems at SIDRU were becoming the subject of public concern in 2013, Lamy managed to have an important public meeting of the intercommunal executive committee declared a “closed session”…”In a posting dated 13 August 2013 the opposition group Saint-Germain Autrement criticised Lamy’s attempts to silence its members on the municipal council because of their persistent criticism of his management of SIDRU and its “toxic loans”.

See the blog post (in French)Débat sur le SIDRU : quand le maire de Saint-Germain-en-Laye veut faire taire l’opposition de gauche“.

Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era will be familiar with the deployment of such tactics, in particular Battistelli’s frequent use of “confidential sessions” of the Administrative Council to pursue dubious agendas and keep matters of legitimate public interest hidden away from any external scrutiny.

“Observers of the EPO during the Battistelli era will be familiar with the deployment of such tactics, in particular Battistelli’s frequent use of “confidential sessions” of the Administrative Council to pursue dubious agendas and keep matters of legitimate public interest hidden away from any external scrutiny.”Like the mythical vampire Battistelli and his cronies at the EPO seem to have a strong aversion to sunlight. Perhaps this has something to do with its reputation as the “best of disinfectants” to borrow a well-worn phrase from Louis Brandeis.

Jut to give one prominent example, Battistelli’s reaction to the Enlarged Board of Appeal’s decision to hold a public hearing in the case of proceedings under Article 23 of the European Patent Convention (removal from office of a member of the Boards of Appeal) is well known and has been widely documented, e.g. [1, 2].

In most other contexts — leaving aside totalitarian states such as North Korea — any holder of public office who had been caught interfering with judicial independence in such an open and flagrant manner would most likely have been forced to face the consequences.

“In most other contexts — leaving aside totalitarian states such as North Korea — any holder of public office who had been caught interfering with judicial independence in such an open and flagrant manner would most likely have been forced to face the consequences.”In Battistelli’s case he was never called to account. Perhaps this was because he had been so successful in reducing his oversight body to a mere “rubber-stamp committee”?

In Part 2 we will examine some further aspects of “Système Lamy” and its EPO clone.

Rubber Stamp

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