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Council agreement on biotechnology patents

The Council of Ministers has reached political agreement on its common position on the proposed Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions. Speaking after the Council meeting on 27 November, Commissioner Mario Monti, responsible for the Single Market welc...
The Council of Ministers has reached political agreement on its common position on the proposed Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions. Speaking after the Council meeting on 27 November, Commissioner Mario Monti, responsible for the Single Market welcomed the agreement.

According to Mr. Monti, adoption of the Directive would "guarantee that legally binding ethical safeguards are applied in all Member States while ensuring that biotechnology inventions enjoy a high level of patent protection throughout the Single Market."

The proposed Directive would harmonize national rules on the patenting of biotechnological inventions, where clear differences between Member States exist. However, patent protection of "discoveries" - such as harnessing substances found in nature - would not be possible. As a result of amendments adopted by the European Parliament at first reading, cloning of human beings and any manipulation of germ line genetic identity will be forbidden.

It may be recalled that the Commission's proposal for a Directive was put forward in December 1995, following the European Parliament's rejection of an earlier proposal at a late stage in the legislative process. The Council's common position, once formally adopted, will be forwarded to the Parliament for its second reading.

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