UNI Global Union is joining with more than 200 civil society organizations from around the world in calling on the European Commission and EU member states to support a TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization.
This waiver would temporarily suspend certain intellectual property claims related to the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines. The move would expand access to lifesaving medicine by allowing low-to-medium income countries to begin scaling up production of the vaccines and diversifying supply options.
In a letter sent today, groups point out that communications from the Commission to the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Council offer no meaningful solutions for equitable access to vaccines and other health technologies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is not only immoral for rich countries to horde vaccine supply and know-how, but it is also incredibly short-sighted. European countries are not safe until the entire world is safe, and a TRIPS waiver is a critical step towards vaccinations for all,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union.
“The worldwide pandemic’s end is nowhere in sight, and many of the essential workers we represent—in care, commerce, cleaning, and beyond—need vaccinations now,” she continued.
A TRIPS waiver now co-sponsored by 63 World Trade Organization (WTO) members and supported by more than 100. It is also backed by a broad coalition including United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, the scientific community, medical associations, trade unions, community and faith-based leaders, national and regional lawmakers, former presidents, prime ministers and Nobel laureates.
The organizations’ letter is demanding:
- EU Member States to request that the European Commission reconsiders its communications to the TRIPS Council given that they do not offer any meaningful solutions to the issue of equitable access and may instead undermine TRIPS flexibilities.
- The EU does not disrupt the discussions on the TRIPS waiver proposal. The EU must acknowledge the European Parliament’s opinion and constructively engage in the text-based negotiations of the TRIPS waiver proposal, ensuring the will of European citizens and billions of people around the world is heard and realized.