EU patent: Parliament gives go-ahead for enhanced cooperation

The European Parliament gave its consent on Tuesday for a common EU patent system to be created using the enhanced cooperation procedure. In December 2010, twelve Member States made a request to launch such a procedure, after it was concluded that not all the Member States could agree on an EU-wide patent system.

All the other Member States except Italy and Spain have since indicated they will sign up to the procedure. These two countries can still join in at any time if they wish.

What is enhanced co-operation?

Under the Lisbon Treaty, “enhanced co-operation” can be used to enable a group of Member States to adopt new common rules when a unanimous EU-wide agreement cannot be reached.

Such a procedure may go ahead only after the Council authorises it, on the basis of a Commission proposal, and after the European Parliament has given its consent.

This is the second case of enhanced cooperation, the first being the divorce law approved in 2010.