The European Council adopted the software patent directive on Monday, despite requests from Denmark, Poland and Portugal to reject the directive.
An EU Council spokeswoman said on Monday morning that the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive had been adopted, but was unable to give more details.
According to Florian Mueller, an anti-patent campaigner who watched the public part of the meeting, a minister from Luxembourg said the directive is being adopted to ensure that the Council adheres to its processes and to avoid creating problems for other directives.
"We are adopting the position for institutional reasons so as not to create a precedent which might have a consequence of creating future delays in other processes," the minister said, according to Mueller.
Last week it was reported that Denmark would attempt to have the directive listed as a B-item, rather than an A-item, allowing the text to be renegotiated. The Luxembourg minister admitted that Denmark, Poland and Portugal would have preferred the directive to be listed as a B-item, according to Mueller.
The directive will now be passed to European Parliament, which can reject or amend the proposal, for a second reading.
The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) accused the EU Council of ignoring the views of both the national parliaments that spoke out against the directive and the European Parliament, which demanded that the directive be restarted.
"This is a very sad day for democracy, and casts a very dark shadow over the European Constitution, which will give the Council even more power," said the FFII in a statement.
Mueller agreed that the Council's decision was "undemocratic". He said that getting the Parliament to reject or amend the proposal could be difficult
"The hurdle is very high as we need an absolute majority of every member of parliament, which means 367 MEPs for every amendment to the directive," said Mueller.
Hugo Lueders, the director of public policy at pro-patent organisation CompTIA, said he is pleased the Council has adopted the directive. He claims software patents are needed to ensure that the EU can keep to the goals set by the "Lisbon Agenda" --- that the EU will become the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010.
"We think this directive is overdue," said Lueders. "It's extremely urgent to proceed with the Lisbon Agenda, of which this directive is a key element."