THE Commission has urged the EU to organise a “permanent and open” dialogue with oil-producing countries and called for closer co-operation with Russia on energy. In a paper due to be presented to EU leaders at a summit later this month, the Commission also said it did not foresee a significant fall in oil prices in the short-term, but shied away from recommending the release of strategic reserves.INTERNAL market ministers reached provi-sional agreement on a draft EU law on copyright in the digital age last week, but failed to make headway on a planned Union-wide patent system. There are now hopes that the EU could formally adopt the copyright directive before the end of this year. But disagreements over the proposed patent law have raised doubts as to whether Union leaders’ pledge to create a European patent by the end of 2001 can still be respected.EU TRANSPORT ministers have agreed that single-hull oil tankers should be phased out as part of efforts to avoid accidents at sea like the Erika oil spill off the French coast late last year. The agreement came ahead of negotiations on the issue at an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meeting this week. SWEDISH Prime Minister Göran Persson has indicated that a referendum on euro membership could be held in his country before autumn 2004. Persson has come under pressure to fix a deadline after the Danes rejected the single currency last week. Support for the euro in Sweden slumped to a record low last week after the vote, with only 31% in favour and 41% against.