Procedure : 2021/2692(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0309/2021

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<TitreSuite>to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>

<Titre>on meeting the global COVID-19 challenge: effects of the waiver of the WTO TRIPS Agreement on COVID-19 vaccines, treatment, equipment and increasing production and manufacturing capacity in developing countries</Titre>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Sven Simon, Christophe Hansen, Peter Liese, Christian Ehler, Angelika Niebler, Tomas Tobé</Depute>

<Commission>{PPE}on behalf of the PPE Group</Commission>


See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0306/2021


European Parliament resolution on meeting the global COVID-19 challenge: effects of the waiver of the WTO TRIPS Agreement on COVID-19 vaccines, treatment, equipment and increasing production and manufacturing capacity in developing countries


The European Parliament,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

1. Expresses its concern about the development of the pandemic, in particular in low- and middle-income countries where the vaccination campaign is only proceeding slowly; emphasises that helping those countries to vaccinate their residents is not only a moral imperative, but is also in our own interests because the emergence of mutations could undermine our success in fighting the pandemic; strongly emphasises that the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over and that we need to remain vigilant, in particular with regard to mutant strains; recognises that this may require the development of mutation-adapted vaccines and therefore recognises the importance of maintaining incentives for research into and the production of vaccines;

2. Notes that the production of any type of vaccine, but especially those based on mRNA technology, requires advanced capabilities, and that the production of vaccines is a very complex process involving thousands of production steps and countless patents, as well as a complex mix of raw materials and components sourced from several countries; stresses that patents cover only a fraction of the knowledge needed to produce safe and efficient vaccines and that lifting patents will not enable producers from other parts of the world to acquire the necessary know-how automatically; therefore considers that voluntary licences are the most effective instrument to facilitate the expansion of production and the sharing of know-how; recalls that several World Trade Organization (WTO) members have not yet implemented the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) amendments on compulsory licences for export and that depending on the form these national provisions take, the processes may be very lengthy and there may be room for improvement; also recalls that there is no automatic transfer of associated know-how along the supply chain;

3. Emphasises that least-developed countries already enjoy a waiver, granted until 1 January 2033, on the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement provisions on pharmaceuticals, as well as a waiver, granted until 1 July 2021, and whose extension is currently being discussed, exempting least-developed countries from all the TRIPS Agreement obligations except for Articles 3, 4 and 5; notes the lack of impact of these waivers on COVID-19 vaccine production in least-developed countries, including those that have manufacturing capacity for pharmaceuticals;

4. Notes that patent and other intellectual property protections ensure equitable rewards and safeguards for entrepreneurial risk-taking and incentivise high-level research; notes that such protections are the basis for voluntary licencing agreements and know-how transfer and are therefore enablers of rather than barriers to vaccine availability; cautions that under a paradigm of unenforceability for patents, companies would have to resort to secrecy or exclusivity to protect their innovations; underlines the threat that a TRIPS Agreement waiver would pose to research finance, in particular for researchers, investors, developers and clinical trials; emphasises that the protection of property rights, including intellectual property rights, is a constitutional obligation of the European Union and its Member States;

5. Recalls that the EU continues to be a leading provider of vaccines around the world, having exported half of its production to more than 110 countries; notes with regret that other advanced industrial economies, in particular the United States, have not fulfilled their share of responsibility in ensuring global and equitable access to vaccines;

6. Is of the view that the most effective way to fight the pandemic is to swiftly scale up global production of vaccines and to ensure faster, wider and low-cost availability, in particular for vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries; calls on the EU and all the WTO members to therefore oppose the motion for a temporary waiver of the TRIPS Agreement, as well as the revised motion filed by India and South Africa, as such a step would not increase the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, but would further disincentivise future research, innovation and transfer of know-how; welcomes the efforts made by the Director-General of the WTO to persuade members to pursue a dialogue-based solution, as well as the Commission’s announced proposals in this regard; instead proposes that the following steps be taken:

 Lift all existing de facto and de jure export restrictions on vaccines and raw materials in supply chains, excluding mechanisms designed to enhance transparency,

 Urgently provide financial incentives and support the scaling up of production capacities for vaccines, in particular in developing countries,

 Incentivise voluntary licencing agreements and voluntary technology and know-how transfers to countries with pre-existing vaccine manufacturing industries and launch a dialogue on existing obstacles to voluntary licencing and how to overcome them,

 Substantially increase the number of vaccine doses provided through the COVAX facility;

7. Supports the Commission’s intention to present a ‘third way’ proposal in early June to the WTO focusing on three complementary pillars: trade facilitation and measures against export restrictions, the expansion of production, including through pledges by vaccine manufacturers and developers, and the clarification and facilitation of TRIPS Agreement flexibilities relating to compulsory licences; welcomes the Commission’s launch of the flagship Team Europe initiative to help scale up vaccine manufacturing in Africa by providing financial support to regional manufacturing hubs;

8. Notes that the EU is a major donor to the COVAX Facility in terms of financing and vaccine-sharing, both via COVAX and bilaterally; welcomes, in this respect, the Team Europe commitment to donate 100 million doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of the year, and salutes the agreement with vaccine manufacturers to deliver 1.3 billion vaccine doses in 2021 at low cost to middle-income countries and at no profit to low-income countries;

9. Calls on the EU and its Member States to draw lessons from the pandemic to step up their preparedness for future health crises; therefore calls on them to provide more support to developing and non-EU countries for logistics and vaccine distribution chains; recognises limitations such as the lack of cooling infrastructure, distribution channels and qualified personnel, barriers to geographical and socio-economic outreach and vaccine hesitancy; invites the EU to intensify discussions with the COVAX Facility members on this topic; welcomes, in this regard, the G20 Rome Declaration’s focus on increasing preparedness to avoid being caught off guard again by a global health emergency;

10. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

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