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Chair, I am honoured to take the floor on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, as Finland is presiding the Council of the European Union until the end of this year.
The European Union and its Member States would like to thank you, Mr. Chair, for your excellent preparation of this General Assembly. We are confident that under your leadership and constructive approach to the difficult topics and issues at hand we can reach positive results and make this General Assembly a success. We also thank the WIPO secretariat for its preparation work.
The protection and promotion of intellectual property rights are key priorities for the European Union and its Member States. In our increasingly knowledge-based economies, IP is a key lever to boost innovations, competitiveness and growth. As our economies and societies are changing, so must the world of IP. For instance, artificial intelligence is revolutionizing every aspect of life and work in the IP world. It exposes our IP system to various new challenges. In addition, data and the use of data are also becoming increasingly relevant to the IP sector. Within Europe, we are analysing these developments with care with a view to defining appropriate policy responses. We are pleased to note that these issues are high on the agenda of WIPO and many of its committees as well, and will continue to actively engage in these discussions. Sustainability is also high on the political agenda in Europe. We will need to see how our IP policies can best support the turn to a greener economy and society. In addition, goods and services offered via Internet and traditional marketplaces that violate IP rights of others concern all citizens, consumers, businesses and societies. The enforcement and awareness-raising of IP rights will therefore also remain of utmost importance to the EU and its Member States.
The World Intellectual Property Organization is a central institution for developing a global IP infrastructure. We are of the opinion that it is important to develop an internationally balanced system of protection for all categories of intellectual property rights. The systems of PCT, Madrid, Hague and Lisbon are the core unions. WIPO is also a unique forum for the discussion of global IP policy in which new norms are being prepared and best practices shared. While the normative work of WIPO is important for the functioning of the current global IP system, new improvements should be achieved.
With regard to the membership of WIPO treaties, we are pleased to confirm that the EU has made substantial progress on its way to becoming a contracting Party to the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement. The legislative procedure for the adoption of the legal acts will soon be concluded. Therefore, we are confident that the EU will be able to deposit its instrument of accession to the Geneva Act with WIPO still before the end of this year.
Turning to the normative work of WIPO, a crucial issue that we would like to see progressing at this General Assembly is the Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations. We aim for a treaty responding to the present and future needs of broadcasting organizations. The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) agreed in April on a recommendation to this Assembly on continuing its work towards convening a diplomatic conference, aiming for the 2020/2021 biennium. The EU and its Member States are of the opinion that these discussions should be focused and result-oriented. We are hopeful that this will allow the Committee to reach a level of consensus and maturity of the text that would allow us to meet the timeframe envisaged in the recommendation.
Another area of the normative agenda where we would like to see progress is the Design Law Treaty. The European Union and its Member States would like to reiterate the opinion that the text of the Design Law Treaty is ripe for convening of a diplomatic conference on the adoption of this treaty. The Treaty would greatly benefit all designers around the world. In addition, the credibility of WIPO’s legislative agenda would benefit from a successful conclusion of this long-awaited treaty. Therefore, we expect this General Assembly to continue to pave the way towards the convening of a Diplomatic Conference.
Regarding the outstanding issue of a proposal to include a disclosure requirement, we remain concerned that this would act against the aim of harmonizing and simplifying design registration formalities. Instead of inserting a disclosure requirement in the DLT, we consider that the WIPO IGC is the appropriate forum to explore the underlying issues. In the light of ongoing discussions in the IGC and the possibility of finding a more thoroughly contemplated solution in that specialised committee, we invite the proponents to reconsider their proposal for a disclosure requirement in the DLT.
The EU and its Member States are ready to participate actively and open-mindedly in discussions in order to overcome the remaining obstacles to convening a diplomatic conference.
As to the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), the EU and its Member States welcomed that at its 40th session the IGC managed to reach consensus on a recommendation to this General Assembly on the terms of its new Mandate and Work Program. We reiterate our support for the renewal of the mandate of the IGC for the biennium 2020/2021 on the terms and according to the program set out by IGC 40. We remain engaged in continuing negotiations on all three topics and look forward to participating constructively in the work of the IGC under the new mandate. Furthermore, we are happy to announce that two of our Member States, Finland and Germany, have made the pledges to contribute 15 000 euros each to the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities, thus supporting the participation of Indigenous and Local Communities in the work of the IGC also in the future.
Regarding the work of other WIPO committees and working groups, we would like to express our satisfaction with the constructive and fact-based work that has taken place in the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP). This enhances mutual understanding of different national patent systems and provides ideas for better co-operation. We hope that future discussions will help analyse relevant differences in patent systems, which hinder trade and common development in this area.
The EU and its Member States welcome the continued progress made by the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) during its last two sessions. We look forward to giving our contributions to ongoing work in all three key areas discussed in the SCT.
The European Union and its Member States reiterate our commitment to actively and constructively participate in a solution-oriented manner in the discussions taking place during this General Assembly. We hope for a positive and co-operative atmosphere while solving together complex IP matters and other issues ahead of us. In this spirit, we will be able to achieve progress with the important issues on the agenda and WIPO will maintain its global relevance.