[Ip-health] Act Up-Paris confront Karel De Gucht on ACTA and EU-India FTA

Pauline Londeix pauline.londeix at gmail.com
Tue Feb 7 09:31:23 PST 2012

•Press statement Act Up-Paris, February 7, 2012 •


• Act Up-Paris confront Karel De Gucht on ACTA and EU-India FTA•
European Commission’s trade policies threaten access to medicines
across the developing world

Brussels, 7 February 2012 – Supporting the ongoing Global Week of
Action on the EU-India FTA, Pauline Londeix of Act Up-Paris today
confronted the European Commission for Trade, Karel de Gucht at a
“Civil Society dialogue on Trade, Growth and development” at the
European Commission. De Gucht reportedly leaves for India tomorrow for
the EU-India Summit on 10th February 2012 where the E.C. is putting
pressure on the Indian government to announce political trade-offs in
the EU-India FTA.

At the meeting, De Gucht’s general presentation spoke of the desire of
the European Commission to promote “ethical trade.” With a focus on
Least Developed Countries (LDCs), De Gucht stated that the E.C. wants
to offer the poorest countries free access to the E.C. market. He
added that he wants the E.C. keeping focusing on developing bilateral
deals and also multilateral. As bilateral he said that some deals were
already concluded (with Colombia, Peru, Ukraine) and some others had
already started (incl. with India, Malaysia, Singapore).

Mr. De Gucht did not specify what these poor countries would have to
give the E.C. in return. The Indian government has learnt this in the
past four years. Leaked negotiation text shows that in exchange for
opening the E.C. market for Indian companies, the European Commission
wants India to undermine the health safeguards in its patent law that
allow the production and supply of generic medicines from India to the
developing world. Over 80% of those on HIV treatment in developing
countries are on Indian made generic medicines.

On being questioned on the impact of the trade policies of the E.C.
like the EU-India FTA and ACTA on access to medicines, De Gucht’s
reply was to state, once again, that the FTA would not impact access
to medicines. He stated that the E.C was no longer pursuing patent
term extention and data exclusivity.

However he failed to respond to concerns on the impact of IP
enforcement on access to medicines. Referring to the IP enforcement
provisions in the EU-India FTA and ACTA, De Gucht said that he
personally believes that border measures are necessary to control fake
medicines. He asked if groups were concerned with the fake medicines
that were killing people.

Despite clear evidence and analysis from multiple health groups
showing that ACTA has nothing to do with dealing with the problem of
fake medicines and in fact will limit access to generic medicines,
Karel De Gucht continues to promote the idea that ACTA will deal with
fake medicines.

De Gucht also stated that he was not ‘impressed’ by the campaigns
against ACTA. On copyright issues he said that we need to control who
can have access to certain content, that this is just similar to
prevent theft in a supermarket.

As a conclusion he said that “they are really trying to do the best for LDCs”.

Mr. De Gucht’s response to Act Up-Paris on the border measures in the
EU-India FTA and ACTA are a cause for great concern. It appears that
the EC has not taken seriously the impact of the multiple seizures of
generic medicines by European Customs authorities including of HIV
medicines that were on their way from India to Africa. The E.C is also
pushing India to adopt investment rules in the EU-India FTA that would
allow European multinational companies to sue the Indian government in
private international arbitration for any pro-health policies it
undertakes such as price controls, tobacco warning on cigarette
packets, etc.

“Act Up-Paris strongly opposes these provisions in the EU-India FTA.
India is the lifeline of millions in the developing world – including
the LDCs that Mr. de Gucht claims he wants to help,” said Pauline
Londeix of Act Up-Paris. “Mr de Gucht and the European Commission seem
intent on promoting only the interests of multinational corporations.
The E.C’s dangerous trade policies must stop immediately. Too many
lives are at risk,” she said.

 • Act Up-Paris’ Question to Karel de Gucht•

"Mr De Gucht,

I represent Act Up-Paris, an organisation of people living with HIV
based in France. But today, I bring you a message from hundreds of
groups worldwide that have signed a call of action to denounce the
European Commission’s deadly trade policy. For four years you have
negotiated a bilateral agreement with India, for three years you
negotiated ACTA in a total lack of transparency.

You have repeatedly stated that these agreements will not affect
affordable medicines.

Starting on Friday, you will represent E.C during a summit in India.
How can you claim that data exclusivity will not have an impact when
the European Parliament itself has asked that this provision not be
put in an FTA with developing countries ?

How can you state that ACTA and the enforcement provisions in the
EU-India FTA will not affect medicines when European customs
authorities continue to seize generic medicines in transit, like it
happened again last November ?

How can you ask India to implement TRIPS-plus provisions and state
these will not affect access to medicines when the United Nations, the
WHO, UNITAID, the Global Fund, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right
to Health have all condemned these provisions for affecting treatment.

The statements of the European Commission have always been vague and
aimed at confusing the citizens of Europe and millions of people in
need to treatment worldwide. But they are not fooling anyone.

The European Commission speaks only for the profits of a few companies
and not for the lives of millions across the world. Your FTA only aims
at strengthening pharmaceutical companies monopolies. While the
consequences for firms will be more profits, in the real world many
people will die because they will not have access to treatments
because of their price.

Across Asia, Latin America and Africa protests against the European
Union are taking place. Yesterday in London, last Friday in Nepal,
AIDS activists asked you to stop this policy that will take peoples’
lives. We ask you to stop this deadly trade policy."

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