Notes on new EC Commissioners about access to knowledge

Notes on access to knowledge and IPR challenges of the new European Commission



Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation


It is generally accepted that copyright constitutes a barrier for EU researchers and weakens their ability to access published research results. The new commissioner, though it is not his direct competence, will probably support a EU copyright reform that includes some kind of EU-wide copyright exception for scientific researchers.


The new Research Commissioner will also have to deal with the application, very partial to date, of the EU´s new mandatory policy of open access to EC funded scientific published research results and the promotion of open data policies to become the norm by 2020. This also includes an alignment of EU member states open access policies through the European Research Area.


It will also be interesting to see how Moedas uses the mechanism of innovation inducement prizes in the area of biomedical research of Horizon 2020 after a few pilot projects have been launched.


The transparency, IPR rules and social return of the public-private partnership Innovative Medicines Inititative, particulary concerning antibiotic resistance, is also important to follow. The EU´s positions on the WHO process on new models of R and D for medicines will also be important to monitor.


Gunther Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society


Oettinger has committed himself to presenting an EU copyright reform proposal within a year. It is important to note that the competence over EU copyright has moved from the DG Internal Market to DG Connect that will be headed by Oettinger. The copyright unit headed by Maria Martín Prat will now move under a more copyright reform regime. The big challenge will be to try to overcome very different national copyright and licensing rules to conform a single digital market. Harmonizing exceptions and limitation to copyright, including exceptions for Text and Data mining as well as for libraries, might be some of the issues.


The regulation of cloud computing, big data and data protection will also be big challenges that will partially be considered with the context of the TTIP negotiations and trans-Atlantic business parctices.


It will be interesting to follow if the new Commissioner mandates any changes in EU strategy at WIPO on both the proposed broadcasting treaty and exceptions to copyright for libraries. To date the EU has been radically opposed to copyright reform for libraries at WIPO, to the point of blocking any progress at the UN institution. Another important issue will be the pending EU ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty for visually impaired persons that is blocked due to procedural issues over EU/member state competences.



Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety


While competence over pharmaceuticals, including the European Medicines Agency, has been moved to the Industry DG, the new Health Commissioner has insisted that he would make joint proposals with the Industry Commissioner and that his opinions would carry equal weight.

He has suggested coordinating among EU member states to lower the high price of life-saving medicines, possibly through pooled procurement. No mention of IPR was made during his hearing.

He was adamant about supporting transparency and preventing conflict of interests.