PRESS RELEASe: TRIPS: MEPs give their assent to the modification of the agreement

TRIPS: MEPs give their assent to the modification of the agreement
External/international trade

The European Parliament has given its assent to the modification of the agreement on intellectual property rights relating to trade (TRIPS), allowing for a better access for developing countries to medicine for the fight against Malaria, HIV or Tuberculosis.

MEPs linked their vote of assent to commitments of the Council of Ministers and the European Commission for measures that would go beyond what is envisaged by the 27 Member States of the EU when developing countries want to produce or import generic substitutes of patented medicines.

In the absence of a response on behalf of the Portuguese presidency, MEPs had pushed back the vote on the assent three times.

Declaration of the Portuguese presidency

In a statement made in plenary, the Portuguese presidency committed itself to supporting the requests of the European Parliament regarding transfers of technologies and research. 

The Council also guaranteed not to insert the "TRIPS-plus" clause into Economic Partnership Agreements with ACP countries and other future bilateral or regional agreements with developing countries. 

As of today, only Rwanda, on 19 July 2007, has announced its intention to make use of the obligatory licences as an importer. On 4 October 2007, Canada notified the WTO of its intention to authorise a company to produce a generic version of TriAvir, a triple-combination therapy medicine for the treatment of AIDS, which will be exported to Rwanda.

The European Parliament's assent will allow the 27 EU Member States to ratify the amendments with the WTO. 

Once two thirds of the WTO members (100 of 151 members of the organization) have officially accepted the amendment, it will take effect. As of 28 September 2007, eleven countries approved it: Australia, the United States, India, Israel, Japan, Norway, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, El Salvador, Singapore and Switzerland.