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EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 15 The EO must be entrusted by the Administrative Council of the CPVO CPVO AC based on recommendations from the CPVOs Quality Audit Service QAS. Entrustment of EO is an ongoing procedure the CPVOs QAS regularly visits inspects and offers constructive feedback to all EOs. The QAS system ensures the continuous harmonisation protec- tion and promotion of the EU standard for DUS testing and plant varieties. To complete the overview of the CPVO one must stress the importance of the CPVO AC which is the governing body composed of one member from each EU Member State and one member from the European Commission. The industry participates in these meetings as observer associations which represent breeders. In addition the UPOV Office is an observer to the CPVO AC. The CPVO AC also acts as the budgetary authority for the CPVO an important task for a self-financed agency. ES What would you say is the main aim of the CPVO ME Plant breeding requires a substantial time up to 20 years to create a new variety and monetary investment. Without the potential revenue stream of royalties there would be no incentive for breeders to develop new and improved varieties. At the CPVO we work both with and for the breeders to promote and protect plant innovation and RD. The CPVO continuously strives to be more efficient in process- ing applications and assessing candidate varieties in order to reduce costs to clients and increase the quality of the service provided. To date advancement in crop yields have allowed farmers to consistently pro- duce more with less. For example UPOV estimates that improved varieties have accounted for more than 50 per cent of overall yield increases for important crops in Europe benefitting both breeders and society. Our mission statement best sums up the CPVOs role To foster innovation in plant varieties by high quality processing of applications for Community plant variety rights at affordable costs while providing policy guidance and assis- tance in the exercise of these rights for the benefit of stakeholders. Simply put it is our job to ensure that plant breeders can do theirs getting new and improved plants onto the market as soon as possible. ES Could you provide a brief description of the organisational structure and explain how the seed sector is involved in the decision making process of the CPVO ME As one of only two fully self-financed EU agencies the CPVOs budget depends on fees paid by the seed sector. Similarly the seed sector depends on the CPVO to provide PVR services at EU level. This interdependence fosters understanding cooperation and open dialogue between the CPVO and the seed industry. We pride ourselves on our thorough understanding of the seed sector which ensures that our deci- sions on the running of the system are based on the sectors real needs. The CPVO works closely with the Commission the initiator of EU legislation and the Member States who form part of the CPVO AC. The industry is represented in the CPVO AC by the European Seed Association ESA the International Community of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Ornamental and Fruit Plants Ciopora and Plantum who participate in the CPVO AC meetings as observers. This means that the industry can have its say on almost all aspects of how the office is run. It is nevertheless important to emphasize that the agency is an independent body. This is why an independent committee composed entirely of CPVO staff members makes decisions on individual applications. Representatives of the seed sector also participate in the CPVOs technical meetings where technical protocols are developed. Technical protocols outline and describe how varieties are tested and described they are the backbone of the PVR system. The involvement of the seed sector as regards the development of DUS testing ensures that the CPVO makes informed decisions. Observers are also regularly invited to ad hoc working groups of the CPVO. ES What regulatory and other changes have been made since its inception 20 years ago ME Due to the success of the current system it was not deemed nec- essary to drastically reform EU PVP. A statement supported by the 2011 independent evaluation report carried out on the functioning of the CPVO. This report informed us that the system functions well and that stake- holders are generally happy with it and wish to retain the system in its current form. That said the report did suggest certain changes which we welcomed. It will be up to the EU legislator to decide if and when the founding regulation governing the EU PVP system should be amended. An important component for excellent customer service is trans- parency. The Offices transparency policy was formalised in 1999. It was subsequently updated in 2003 to include specific rules on public access to documents. In 2003 the CPVO created a new financial regulation which aligned the CPVOs financial regulation to that of other EU institutions making the CPVO more finan- cially transparent. The CPVO ensures that its work has a high level of visibility. This concern is all the more important as the CPVO seeks above all to act in the interests of the citizens of Europe the seed sector and the breeders. An important procedural change was the opening up of the CPVO application system in 2008. This allowed the CPVO to accept applications from any natural or legal person. Previously applications were limited to persons from EU Member States or UPOV members. The system for online applications was intro- duced in March 2010 this has proven hugely popular among clients last year 78 per cent of all CPVO applica- tions were submitted online. The increase in online applications has allowed the CPVO to reduce processing times for applications. The decline in paper applications has also allowed the CPVO to streamline some administrative work instead focusing on improving our client service. We have used technology to strengthen the EU PVR system by developing publically accessible tools such as Variety Finder and the PVR Caselaw Database. These tools allow people to easily see which varieties are protected and to find the case law which develops the EU PVR system. ES Which special events have you organised to celebrate your 20th anniversary in 2015 ME Our efforts to mark this special occasion allow the CPVO to reflect on accomplishments none of which would have been possible without the constant cooperation and support of the seed sector. Indeed 2015 is the ideal opportunity for the CPVO to extend our most sincere thanks to the sector. It is also an excellent occasion to thank the staff of the CPVO for their diligence and their outstanding contributions to the CPVO. The CPVO will mark the occasion by hosting a seminar with partici- pants from across the field of seeds and plant variety protection including Commissioner Andriukaitis Secretary General of UPOV Francis Gurry and Chair of the European Parliaments Agriculture Committee MEP Siekierski. This seminar will provide a valuable opportunity to reflect on past achievements and the future of the sector and the agency. IT IS OUR JOB TO ENSURE THAT PLANT BREEDERS CAN DO THEIRS GETTING NEW AND IMPROVED PLANTS ONTO THE MARKET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.