EU Intellectual Property Office should use surplus money productively, say Auditors

The budget surplus of the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), amounting to almost half a billion euros in 2018, should be put to a productive use, according to a new opinion by the European Court of Auditors. The office should explore ways of using its surplusmoney, which is currently incurringnegative interest payments, to support research, innovation and growth in the EU, say the auditors. Moreover, the office should be subject to the same budgetary and discharge procedure before the European Parliamentas other EU bodies.

Based in Alicante, EUIPO is a fully self-financing EU agency responsible for managing the Union trade mark and the registered Community design. Its financial rules provide for a reserve fund to hold budget surpluses covering one year of its operational expenditure. However, they do not specify for what purpose other accumulated surpluses should be used.

By the end of 2018, EUIPO’s reserve fund amounted to €243 million, while the office also retained €299 million of other accumulated surpluses. €493 million (or more than 90 %) of the reserve fund and accumulated surpluses was held in cash at banks, on which the office currently pays negative interest. These charges amounted to €1.4 million in 2018.

“EUIPO’s surpluses are currently not assigned to any productive use either at the level of the office or the EU,” said Rimantas Šadžius, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the opinion. ”The office and the European Commission should explore the possibility of using its budget surpluses to invest in financial instruments supporting research and innovation activities by European enterprises”.

 

The auditors consider that this would help to safeguard the funds and generate additional revenue, and could in turn also give rise to new intellectual property rights. Moreover, the auditors say EUIPO’s revenue stems from the exercise of public authority based on EU law, and the office should work together with the Commission and the EU’s co-legislators –the European Parliament and the Council –to develop and apply a more adequate accountability framework.

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