the European Parliament in favor of the lifting of patents

“The lifting of patents would strengthen global access to affordable vaccines”, assures the European Parliament. The institution has pronounced, Thursday, June 10, for a temporary lifting of patents on vaccines against Covid-19 in order to develop their production.

The resolution was adopted after a vote that divided MEPs. With 355 votes in favor, MEPs, who are holding their first plenary session in Strasbourg since the start of the pandemic, called for intellectual property rights on vaccines to be temporarily lifted. Some 263 MEPs voted against and 71 abstained.

“Parliament proposes to start negotiations on the temporary lifting of the agreement [sur les aspects des droits de propriété intellectuelle qui touchent au commerce, Adpic] of the World Trade Organization [OMC] on patents to improve global access to affordable medical products ” by inflating production to avoid supply shortages, Parliament said.

A vote that divided

Within Parliament, opinions differed on this request for a general suspension of patents. The initial text proposed to the vote did not mention it, but amendments made by the left and environmental groups, adopted by a few votes, made it possible to include the lifting of patents.

“Because no one will be safe until the whole world is vaccinated, lifting vaccine patents is as profitable economically as it is morally fair”, defended the French delegation of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D, Social Democrats).

Conversely, the MEP of the European People’s Party (EPP, right) François-Xavier Bellamy had estimated, Wednesday, with Agence France-Presse that the lifting of patents was ” A false good idea “. “It’s an answer beside the real question of the moment which is: VSow do I get enough doses? , he considered, preferring to privilege the Covax program, which provides free doses to underprivileged countries. The EPP group, first in the European Parliament, voted largely against the text.

The MEP of the Left group in the European Parliament (GUE / NGL, left) Manon Aubry, for her part, congratulated herself on voting, evoking, Thursday, on Twitter a “Historic vote”.

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The reluctant Commission

The decision to lift patents is up to the Adpic council of the WTO, whose members made, on Wednesday, a first step Towards an agreement on relaxation of intellectual property rights for vaccines.

While several political groups in Parliament had called in May the European Union to support the lifting of patents on vaccines against Covid-19, the European Commission on the contrary reiterated, on June 4, its reluctance to the idea. a temporary suspension of patents, called for by countries like India and South Africa, and recently supported by the American administration of Joe Biden.

Instead of lifting patents, the European executive preferred to propose a multilateral agreement to the World Health Organization calling for the lifting of restrictions on exports of vaccines and components (as they exist in the United States) and encouraging “License agreements” volunteers between companies or “Compulsory licenses” at the national level alone.

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The World with AFP