[Ip-health] Von der Leyen 'not ruling out' waiving IP rights on vaccines

Dimitri Eynikel Dimitri.Eynikel at msf.org
Wed Mar 17 23:27:34 PDT 2021

Apologies for cross posting


Von der Leyen 'not ruling out' waiving IP rights on vaccines

-- By Ashleigh Furlong
March 17, 2021, 3:23 pm | View in your browser<https://politico.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e26c1a1c392386a968d02fdbc&id=9324be47a9&e=3e18834ce6>

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is “not ruling out” waiving intellectual property rights or seizing production of vaccines in the bloc in the effort to get Europeans vaccinated, she said today.

Asked during a press conference whether she would consider proposing the use of an emergency provision in the EU treaties to waive IP rights or take over the production of vaccines in the EU, von der Leyen said that “all options are on the table.”

The provision in question is Article 122 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which allows for the EU to take “measures appropriate to the economic situation” if severe difficulties arise in the supply of certain products. The article can be enacted if the Council responds to a proposal from the Commission requesting such a move.

“We are in the crisis of the century and I’m not ruling out anything for now because we have to make sure Europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible,” she said. “Human lives, civil liberties and also the prosperity of our economy are dependent on that, on the speed of vaccination … so vaccine production and vaccine delivery in the European Union must have a priority.”

She said that Article 122 had been used once before — during the oil crisis in the 1970s.

Her comments echo those made by European Council President Charles Michel<https://politico.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e26c1a1c392386a968d02fdbc&id=fe218c3e81&e=3e18834ce6> in January, when he said that the EU could adopt “urgent measures” by invoking Article 122. Other prominent European figures have also hinted at redistributing patents<https://politico.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=e26c1a1c392386a968d02fdbc&id=3a2a58e780&e=3e18834ce6>.

At the same time, the EU is still fiercely opposing a controversial proposal at the World Trade Organization for an IP waiver on coronavirus-related medical products. There, Brussels has argued that existing flexibilities allowing more limited compulsory licensing are sufficient, and that the IP system itself is crucial for future innovation.

More information about the Ip-health mailing list