Indeed, despite its flexibility, the TRIPS agreement creates barriers to access and prevents a „wise exchange of knowledge and technology transfers“ in the areas most important to countries facing a pandemic. It is therefore essential that patent protection for treatments and vaccines and other intellectual property protection measures be temporarily removed in the agreement with regard to anti-COVID-19 measures. On TRIPS complaints about non-violations and situations – while MEPs should be able to file complaints if they believe that the actions taken by another member or a particular situation have taken away from them an expected benefit under the TRIPS agreement, although no obligation of the agreement has been violated – the members reiterated their well-known positions. The Chair encouraged members to submit contributions that could help shape the debate and achieve a significant outcome at the 12th Ministerial Conference in 2021. The secretariat reported on the AmcHC meeting of 3 September 2020, which provided information on the origin and application of these complaints in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the WTO, on discussions under the TRIPS Agreement and on the provisions of the NVSC in regional trade agreements. The briefing attracted more than 90 participants from around the world and received positive feedback. Finally, based on the policies already authorized under the TRIPS agreement, many disadvantaged countries and groups will still not have access to new treatments and vaccines. The TRIPS agreement allows countries to grant compulsory licences to their own drug manufacturers if they have not negotiated a satisfactory agreement with the innovative company and in the event of an extreme emergency (Article 31). The rules also allow countries that do not have production capacity to import these authorized drugs (Article 31bis), although this has only been done once. In these cases, the government chooses a reasonable amount to pay the innovative pharmaceutical company. Last week, it was learned that a proposal by India and South Africa at the last trips Council meeting to introduce rules to remove certain intellectual property rights (IPRs) to facilitate access to Covid 19 vaccines was initially rejected because of a lack of consensus. Thus, according to the UK Government („Uk“), the proposal is „an extreme measure to tackle an unproven problem“.“ The European Union, the United States and Australia supported the United Kingdom, while other delegations, such as Kenya, supported the proposal.
It is clear that the days when GATT was a small club of good friends are over, although disagreements do not necessarily indicate a hostile atmosphere. And it is very likely that the fight for consensus will continue at future meetings.