Topic: EU FTAs & Transit issue: What answer from the European Commission?
Location European Parliament, Brussels
Room: Room ASP 5G 315
Date & time: 24 March 2010 12:45-14:30
The European Union, leading by the European Commission (EC), is currently negotiating trade agreements with several developing countries, between them India, which is the main world manufacturer of generic medicines destined for developing countries. Through these trade negotiations, the EC is proposing provisions related to intellectual property rights that go beyond what requires the TRIPS Agreement, being called “TRIPS plus” provisions. This is putting under threat access to medicines for developing countries and therefore contradicts the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, according to which the TRIPS “agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members’ right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all".
Moreover detainments by EU customs authorities of legitimate generic medicines transiting through Europe on their way to developing countries, on the grounds of suspected patent infringement, have attracted the criticism of some Member States, Members of the European Parliament, Academics and civil society alike, concern with the ramifications of such detentions on access to medicines in developing countries generally. The EC Regulation 1383/2003, on which are based these detainments, empowers EU customs authorities to take action in respect of any shipment suspected of infringing any IPR, including patent, in EU even if the goods are in transit and not intended for sale in the EU markets. The same provisions is envisaged by the EU to be in the current FTAs.
The European Commissioner Karel De Gucht recently affirmed that he would monitor that the FTA, notably with India, would not impede the free trade of generic medicines; moreover he added that developing countries have a right to those medicines and that we should do everything to realise this also in practise, which means as well to revise the Regulation 1383/2003 (Hearing in INTA Committee,12 January 2010).
During the round table, presentations by experts on the respective issues will be provided following by responses from representatives of the European Commission. Members of the group will then debate on the following steps to take in order to ensure that the current and future legal framework would not undermine the developing countries rights to cheap and affordable essential medicines.