Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
27. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if Ireland will put pressure on the EU to support the intellectual property waiver proposal from India and South Africa at the WTO meeting on 23 February 2021 (details supplied). [9913/21]
Since October 2020, India and South Africa have presented a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow all countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce any patents and other intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for the duration of the pandemic. The proposers argue that this would allow countries to scale up the manufacture of such products.
International Trade is a competence of the EU under the Treaties and in exercising that competence, the European Commission engages fully with the Member States through a variety of Committees and Working Parties/Groups, including on Intellectual Property.
The EU’s current position on the proposed waiver is that the WTO international agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement) allows countries the flexibility to respond to the concerns raised by India and South Africa. Specifically, the TRIPS agreement allows compulsory licensing which is when a government permits someone else to produce the patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner.
The EU considers that the COVAX Facility, the international initiative to ensure global access to COVID vaccines, is the mechanism that is best placed to ensure that high-income countries finance the vaccines and support the developing countries to secure their share of global supply.
Ireland has consistently championed collaborative responses to the pandemic, with a focus on ensuring that the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are served by our collective effort. As a member of the global health community, Ireland continues to play an active role in ensuring fair and equitable access to vaccines for all. This includes supporting the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund, to develop, produce and equitably distribute effective technologies in the COVID-19 global response.