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280 European Parliamentarians urge EU, member States to support TRIPS waiver

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on March 25, 2021

The waiver proposed by South Africa, India will lift IP monopolies, remove legal uncertainty, members point out in their appeal

With a fresh resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe, as many as 280 members of the European Parliament and of European National Parliaments have urged the EU and its member states to support the proposal put forward by India and South Africa for a temporary waiver of the TRIPS Agreement provisions at the WTO.

“The waiver proposed by South Africa and India would facilitate the sharing of all intellectual property and know-how. It will lift IP monopolies, remove legal uncertainty, and provide the freedom to operate to enable collaboration to increase and speed up the availability, accessibility and affordability of Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments globally,” stated a joint appeal from EU Parliamentarians and members of European Nation Parliaments. The appeal had been signed by 280 Parliamentarians, till Wednesday, spread across countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and Belgium.

Also read: Doctors Without Borders calls for support to IP waiver on Covid-19 medical products

The note pointed out that the new strains of Covid-19 proved that countries cannot defeat the virus till it is defeated everywhere. The global economy stands to lose trillions of dollars if the vaccination rate doesn’t rapidly increase worldwide and over 2.6 million lives had already been lost worldwide.

“We stand with the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, over 100 national governments, hundreds of civil society organisations, and trade unions, and join them in urging the European Commission and EU member states to discuss at the highest levels and support the temporary waiver of certain obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS),” the appeal added.

India and South Africa had proposed to the WTO on October 2 2020, that it should allow all member countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce patents and other intellectual property-related to Covid-19 drugs, vaccines and medical products for the duration of the pandemic. The proposal has got huge support at the WTO with about 57 countries, including African nations and LDCs, co-sponsoring the paper and a total of over 100 countries lending it support.

Many developed members, including the EU, the US, Switzerland, Norway, Japan, Australia and the UK, opposed the proposal on the grounds that it could be counterproductive, and said that countries were on their own collaborating on medications and vaccines.

The EU, however, is currently facing a shortage of vaccines with a fresh resurgence of the pandemic and is reportedly contemplating putting restrictions on its exports.

Published on March 25, 2021

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