One area that PFE monitors is that of the broader economic and political climate in Europe. Of particular interest are matters relating to the expansion of the EU. In simple terms, expansion is welcome for breeders who have been granted EU PVR in their plants as these rights extend to new nations once they become full members of the Union. For example, from 1st January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania will be full members and it will be possible to enforce EU PVR in those countries, with the potential to issue meaningful licences there without the need to make local PVR applications.

The EU has just released a report which discusses issues surrounding candidate and potential candidate nations in the Balkans as well as Turkey. It would be helpful to extend EU PVR to these nations as they are not only potential new markets but also potentially a source of illegally produced plants. However, it is right that these nations should only be admitted to the Union when they have economic and legal structures in place that are to the same standards as found in established EU nations. Particular concerns include the strength of intellectual property laws and the ability of the judiciary to effectively enforce any existing laws.

The full European Commission reports can be found here. They are rather long, so if you are time-poor you might find the BBC News analysis of the reports to be useful. In general, it appears unlikely that any of these nations will be ready to join the Union in the short term, with Croatia likely to be the first but not before 2010.