Short speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the laying of the foundation stone for the new premises of the European Patent Office

Short speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the laying of the foundation stone for the new premises of the European Patent Office, Rijswijk, 25 June 2014.

President Battistelli, ladies and gentlemen,

Abraham Lincoln once said that the US Patent Office 'adds the flame of interest to the light of creativity'.
A splendid image, and one that applies to the European Patent Office too.
Patents oil the wheels of economic innovation - a process that never stops.
It requires creative, technically-gifted people, who are free to experiment and think outside the box.
But it also involves hard commercial interests.
Businesses and investors want their euro, dollar or yen to yield a profit, and rightly so.
A good patent system ensures that risk and return are in balance.
That's why the EPO has been a driving force behind innovation and economic growth for over forty years.

The Netherlands was a pioneer of European cooperation in this area.
And that's no accident.
Our country has many knowledge-intensive companies, makes many patent applications, and benefits from an efficient European market.
Two weeks ago we were happy to learn that we had moved from fourth to third place on the list of most innovative European economies.
And last year the number of Dutch applications to the EPO rose seventeen per cent, to over seven and a half thousand.
That's one hundred and twenty-nine applications for every million inhabitants - more than in Germany, Japan and the United States.

We all know that the bigger the international focus of patent policy, the more international business benefits.
So I'm very pleased that we can finally take a big step towards a single European patent - something the EU agreed in 2013.
Most member states are on board and that's good news for European business: less expense, less red tape and one Unified Patent Court to deal with disputes.
It's taken a while, but this key addition to the internal market is finally taking shape.
I'd like to thank the European Patent Office for the vital contribution it has made.
The new building here in Rijswijk is a sign that you have confidence in the future.
That you are ready for a new phase, in which you will also be responsible for implementing the European patent.
The building will be ultra-sustainable, a shining example of innovation, and proof of your determination to remain the global benchmark for quality.
And by choosing a Franco-Dutch design team - Jean Nouvel of Paris and Dam and Partners Architecten of Amsterdam - you are also symbolising the importance of European cooperation in the field of patents.

In short, this is a festive occasion for many players: for Europe, for the European Patent Office, for innovative European businesses and all enterprising universities.
And above all for the Netherlands - especially The Hague and Rijswijk.
As the biggest international organisation in the Netherlands, the European Patent Office has been a pillar of the regional economy for forty years.
But even more important: the new premises will bolster the Netherlands' international image.
So we are grateful to you.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Netherlands and The Hague are happy that the European Patent Office has its home here.
I wish everyone - architects, builders and all your staff - every success in the coming years.
Perhaps we will meet again in 2017, when the new building is completed, twenty-five thousand Dutch-European patent applications down the line.

Thank you.