27. We have reported at the Council's successive meetings on the development and implementation of the e-TRIPS project, which includes a Notification Submission System (NSS) and an Information Management System (IMS). In the nature of such a complex IT-project, it has taken longer than initially planned, but this has given us more opportunities to consult with interested delegations to help us fine-tune the project. The project not only entails a major overhaul of delegations' means of access to TRIPS notifications materials, but also reaches deep into our internal processes to update and streamline the rather complex manual procedures that are required for getting a notification through the full system and back to you as an official document.
28. As regards the NSS, I recall that it remains an entirely optional tool for Members to use. The existing pathways for submitting notifications in other ways remain entirely open, but the intention is to provide a user-friendly tool for Members to be able more easily to identify the gaps in their current notifications and to fill those gaps in a more manageable way. The EU's statement describing the challenges involved in a significant update of notifications for one Member in particular, in this case Finland, is a reminder that this has been a complex task. We are conscious that this is an area which has seen a great deal of recent legislative development and reform in many Members, but that some Members have not updated their notifications for some time.
29. Given the objective to create a notification submission system that is streamlined and easy to use, we are very grateful to those delegates who have taken the time to sit down with us to road-test the system while it has remained in beta-testing mode. Their feedback has been extremely helpful in fine-tuning the system and preparing for its operational roll-out. We would like to encourage any interested delegate to contact us to test the system and to work with us for their suggestions and feedback, in particular any Member in a situation, such as Finland was, looking to update comprehensively the range of laws it had earlier notified. This would be a very good opportunity to sit with us and to go through the process in a practical way. It will help us ensure that the final product is most useful for you in years to come. In time, we are making training sessions and materials on the use of the new system available and this will form a regular part of our technical assistance programme.
30. We are now turning to the next stage of the project, which aims to make it easier to use the notified material in practice, bearing in mind that already over 5,000 individual legal instruments have been put on the system, and we can expect many more as Members bring their notifications up to date. That is an enormous amount of extremely useful information, but it is frankly very difficult to navigate. Therefore, the current emphasis is on providing a gateway that makes it easier to access and use material that has been uploaded through the Information Management System (IMS), integral to continuing efforts to facilitate the timeliness and completeness of notifications and other information flows relating to TRIPS. The idea is to provide a user-friendly on-line resource for searching, consulting and tracking all the range of TRIPS documentation and information, including notified laws and legal instruments and all of the other review and notification materials submitted to the Council, as well as the minutes of the Council itself. At the end of this meeting of the Council, we would like to offer to all delegations a brief informal demonstration of the NSS, and to highlight some of the new features that will make it easier for you to track the status of notifications during the submission process. We will also demonstrate at that session the progress we have made so far on the IMS. We will be working very closely with delegations so that this once-in-a-generation overhaul of the way that we present information to you corresponds most closely to your practical needs and requirements.
31. Overall, our guiding objective has been to enable easier and more practical access to TRIPS documentation and information. I should stress, as ever, that all of this system falls entirely within the requirements of the Agreement itself and the existing decisions of this Council concerning notification requirements. It is simply, we hope, a more efficient, accessible and user-friendly basis for making those processes work. We therefore look forward to continuing to engage with delegates on this project and we would like to again express our warm thanks to those who have helped us with this development so far.