As stated in B-II, 2, the objective of the search is to discover the relevant state of the art for the purpose of assessing novelty and inventive step. Decisions on novelty and inventive step are the province of the Examining Divisions. However, in the search opinion (if applicable, see B-XI, 7), the Search Division gives the applicant a reasoned opinion on whether the application and the invention to which it relates meet the requirements of the EPC, to which he can reply in the examination procedure (Art. 113(1) and B-XI, 8). Opinions on patentability are also implicitly expressed in the search report by the assignment of document categories as defined in B-X, 9.2, and are subject to review by the Examining Division at the examination stage (see B-II, 4.2(iii) and B-XI, 1.2), in particular in the light of the applicant's reply thereto (see B-XI, 8).
The assessment of patentability at the search stage can have a direct bearing on the execution of the search itself, see: B-III, 3.8 (search for subject-matter of dependent claims), B-III, 2.3 (search in analogous technical fields) and B-IV, 2.6 (stopping the search when only trivial matter remains).