MEP Lola Sánchez questions the European Commission: EU's position on the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines at WIPO

On 2 February 2017, MEP Lola Sánchez Caldentey (Podemos, Spain) tabled a series of written questions to the European Commission on the positions taken by the European Union at the World Intellectual Property Organization on 14 December 2016 in relation to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines (UN HLP)

At the December 2016 discussions of the UN HLP at WIPO's Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), the EU said:

The work conducted by the Panel started from an assumption that there was a "policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health". As the European Commission already indicated in its written contribution to the Panel, it does not share this assumption.

As noted by KEI in December 2016, negotiations at the WIPO patent committee "broke down on the issue of future work, as the European Union and Group B refused to permit discussions of the Report of the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines at future sessions of the SCP." (Source: SCP25: Closing Statement of the Republic of South Africa)

It is understood that the European Commission is obliged to provide a written answer to the questions tabled by MEP Sanchez within 6 weeks of the date of submission, 2 February 2017.

Subject: EU's position on the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines at WIPO

The recommendations of the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines(1) (HLP) elicited a very critical response from the EU on 14 December 2016 in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which stated that ‘The work conducted by the Panel started from an assumption that “there was a policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health”’. The Commission indicated in its written contribution to the Panel that it does not share this assumption(2).

The strong support for the HLP recommendations expressed by the European Parliament Working Group on Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases(3) stands in stark contrast with the official EU position, calling on the EU to ‘acknowledge the usefulness of the recommendations and start a process to facilitate the implementation in order to ensure both innovation and affordable and suitable access to the needed innovative medical tools, in Europe and beyond.’

1. Could the Commission clarify at which juncture the delegation representing the Council, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Commission consulted with the European Parliament on the position expressed regarding the report of the UN High?Level Panel on Access to Medicines?

2. Could the Commission explain how the delegation representing the Council, the EEAS and the Commission will ensure that the position adopted by the EU’s representatives at WIPO on 14 December 2016 takes into account the legitimate democratic interests and institutional viewpoints of Parliament?

3. Could the Commission explain the democratic, accountable and transparent process on the basis of which the EU’s position on the UN HLP report was formulated?

(1) http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/final-report
(2) https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/un-geneva/17248/wipo-standing-committ...
(3) https://www.msfaccess.org/content/epwg-statement-supporting-recommendations-un-high-level-panel-access-medicines-report