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The Council will meet on Tuesday 4 February at midday. At the level of principles the ministers appear to be prepared to push forward, but whenever they come down to technical details minor problems take on enormous proportions and deadlocks follow in rapid succession. The following points are on the agenda. 1. Review of work on completing the internal market The Dutch presidency, which has doubled the frequency of Council meetings on the internal market, is proposing that from now on each meeting should review the work in hand aimed at achieving the objectives set out in the Commission White Paper. It should be borne in mind that the joint programme of the Dutch and UK presidencies calls for the adoption of 95 decisions of thus kind. The meeting will certainly have to note delays in the work of all the institutions. Some of the Commission proposals awaited are late, essentially because of a shortage of staff in key departments of the Commission. In the Council the handling of the tax proposals in the White Paper has been very slow; there is a lack of coordination between the different Council meetings considering proposals of importance to the internal market (for example, plant health, veterinary aspects and food legislation are handled by meetings of agriculture ministers); and there are shortcomings in the working parties of experts preparing the items which go before the Council meetings proper. The Commission expects decision- mailing in the Council to become easier once the institutional reforms adopted by the Intergovernmental Conference have been ratified. It is therefore recommending that the proceedings should be conducted in the "Luxembourg spirit" straightaway. The Parliamentary bodies too have still to be mobilized so that Parliamentary opinions on individual proposals can be delivered more promptly, although the Commission is very happy with the support Parliament has been giving to the principles it has outlined. 2. Community patent The Luxembourg Conference on the Community Patent, which was called following a decision of the Council meeting on the internal market held on 7 October 1985, completed its work on 18 December 1985. Its purpose was to allow the 1975 Community Patent Convention to operate in a limited number of Member States (the seven States whicch have ratified it - the text of the Convention stipulates that all the States which have signed it must ratify it before it enters into force), and to agree on a judicial machinery for the settlement of disputes. - 2 - The Luxembourg Conference recommended that a Common Appeal Court be set up, which would refer questions to the Court of Justice of the European Comunities where there was a danger of a conflict of interpretation. Thus seven-country entry into force is being held up by those who are reluctant to endorse the principle of "variable geometry", and by the new Member States. It is not expected that there will be any discussion of the substance at this meeting, but procedural steps may be mapped out. 3. Abolition of certain postal charges for customs presentation This question, which is of immediate interest to the public, faces opposition on the part of half the Member States, who feel that these small charges correspond to a real service supplied by post offices. The Commission proposal is based on Article 235, and needs an unanimous vote for its adoption.