15. Colleagues will be aware that the eTRIPS project has been under development for some time and that the Secretariat has updated the Council on the progress over several years. I am pleased to report that the first major stage is coming close to practical completion, namely an online facility for all forms of notification and submission of review materials relating to the work of the Council. I would like to recall the principles that underline this project.
16. First, this online platform is intended to facilitate existing arrangements, consistently with the guidance in the TRIPS Agreement itself and in the decisions of this Council regarding notifications and review processes. Moreover, it remains an entirely optional tool for Members to use. It doesn't replace the existing methods, but we do hope that it will become much more convenient for Members. Among the objectives of the project is to make it significantly easier to file notifications. Secondly, it will also be easier to consult past notifications, including those of your own delegation, and to get up to date as to the state of play. This is becoming increasingly important as we move into twenty-two years of accumulated notifications. Thirdly, the tool will enable delegates generally to survey notifications and review materials across the full sweep of agenda items and work of the Council.
17. The on-line submission gateway is almost ready. In that regard we would like to offer Members at the conclusion of this session of the Council a brief demonstration of that tool. We have already had very helpful informal consultations with interested delegates making use of the tool to road-test it. We thank the delegations concerned for their guidance and feedback; it has helped us shape the tool in the way that will be much more practically useful for delegates to use. The coming months will see, we hope, this tool going on-line for Members to use generally. We therefore encourage delegates with impending notifications to get in touch with us and we can guide you through its practical use. We hope that this will facilitate your work and perhaps enable you to focus less on mechanical and more on substantive things. We are quite aware that it is a huge workload for delegations to trace up and to submit notifications and our single objective has been to make that an easier task.
18. The next stage is to improve the access to the material that has already been submitted. We are very conscious that this is a practical difficulty. At the workshop yesterday, concerning the implementation of Article 66.2, this was one of the questions discussed because it is an area like several others where there is a very large body of complex documentation. The idea is to develop thematic gateways on each of the main topics of interest to the Council. Once again, we will be informally consulting with you as to how to make these gateways most useful for you. In the coming months, we will reach out to you for consultations on that matter. We very much look forward to engaging with delegates on the elaboration of this important tool. Above all, I would like to thank those delegates who have sat down with us and helped us develop it.