On 2003-09-24, the European Parliament voted to clearly make software unpatentable in Europe and to defend basic liberties of the information society, such as freedom of "computer-implemented" reasoning and calculating, freedom of publication, freedom of interoperation. The Parliament's decision was backed by a large and well-informed consensus of programmers, entrepreneurs, economists and consultative organs of the EU. Many MEPs said that they had never before witnessed so intense participation of citizens in their decisionmaking.
But Commissioner Bolkestein and the Council of ministers moved swiftly to discard the Parliament's decision and, on May 18th, reach a "political agreement" in favor of their clientele, patent officials and patent lawyers of multinational corporations, which ensures unlimited patentability of "computer-implemented" algorithms and business methods in Europe. This agreement was reached against the will or without consultation of most national parliaments. The Dutch Parliament passed a resolution to oblige its government to withdraw from the agreement, but the government (steered by advisers from its patent office) chose to disregard this resolution. Yet slowly, some governments have started to move. On 2004-09-24, the first anniversary of EU Democracy Day, the Council of Ministers could decide to put the "political agreement" back on the negotiation agenda and begin a more accountable process.