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Denmark faces patent crisis in first weeks of presidency

Denmark, as it gears up to take over the EU presidency, faces an immediate challenge in successfully completing delicate negotiations on the proposed pan-European patent.

Denmark will hold the presidency of the European Council, which represents member states, from 1 January until 31 June 2012. The country will chair council sessions and meetings and be responsible for negotiations with the Commission and the European Parliament.

The Polish presidency, which ends on 31 December, took a leading role in bringing about a near-solution to the creation of the so-called Community Patent, negotiations on which have been going on for the best part of 30 years. Poland solved the last obstacle to the creation of the patent by convincing Italy and Spain to agree to patents being translated into English, French and German only.

However, the patent agreement is now being blocked by the larger member states, most notably Germany, after a dispute over the location of the proposed European Patent Court. France and Germany both want to host the institution, while the United Kingdom says it also wants to be involved in some physical way with the patent system.

Denmark is inheriting these negotiations with its presidency. The presidency’s website, which went live last week, does not yet contain any specific information on the country’s plans to address the issue, but the Danish permanent representation said it is aware that it will face a “Europe of many crises”.

In terms of research and science priorities the Danish presidency aims to promote funding for green technologies and environmentally friendly energy sources. Denmark’s commissioner is Connie Hedegaard, the climate change commissioner, which gives the country particular clout in this field.

Denmark also said it wants to boost competitiveness to make sure Europe is not falling in global markets. This includes promoting research and innovation as drivers of competitiveness, it said.

The Danish presidency will be followed by that of Cyprus in the second half of 2012. Poland, Denmark and Cyprus form a presidency troika, which means the three countries coordinate priorities and long-term strategies during their respective presidencies.