Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has encouraged European Union leaders not to allow the United States to lead the debate over access to vaccines against Covid-19.
The European Union is not close to discussing patent liberalization for vaccines but insists that it does not solve short-term dosing shortages and calls for increased production and that other countries, such as the United States, are lifting the embargo on exports.
The patent debate, launched by the United States this week, has surprised Europe and crept into the social summit that brought European leaders together on Friday and Saturday in the Portuguese city of Porto.
The matter was discussed last night by European leaders at a working dinner where no common position was reached: “There are different points of view,” Michel admitted at the summit’s closing press conference.
However, the general rationale is that patenting is not a panacea, at least not right away.
“In the short term, many of us believe that it is not a solution,” admitted Michel, who has called on large-scale countries to export potion abroad.
Likewise, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed herself. He said it was a necessary discussion, but “in the long term,” and called for the discussion to reach all aspects of improving vaccine availability, not just patents.
“We have to have the full discussion. We invite all concerned parties to discuss exports and invest in capabilities not only in their own region, but also in other regions, in addition to discussing licenses,” he said.
Most powerful on Saturday was French President Emmanuel Macron, who pointed directly to the United States.
The French President stressed in a press conference: “I call very clearly for the United States to put an end to the export ban, not only of vaccines, but of the components of these vaccines that hinder production.”
Although during the week he was open to patenting, he mentioned in Porto that this should be the fourth priority. Before that, in addition to other blocks that begin to export, it is necessary to increase production and donations.
Italian President Mario Draghi joined Macron’s invitation. He defended this, saying, “Before the patents are released, we must lift the blockade on exports that the United States and the United Kingdom continue to maintain.”
Spain is calling for European leadership
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged the rest of the European Union leaders not to give in to the United States’ leadership of the debate on universal access to vaccines and urged the bloc to clarify its role.
Sanchez made his own proposal to Porto, and although he welcomed US President Joe Biden’s approach to suspending patents, he wanted to go further.
He also called for accelerating the transfer of technology and knowledge to all countries of the world and enhancing the ability to manufacture vaccines in order to achieve faster distribution.
Germany, reluctant to Berlin
Among the European partners, Germany is one of the countries most reluctant to release patents and this has been carried over to the rest despite the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel did not go to Porto and participated by video link.
“I have made it clear once again that I do not believe that patenting is the solution to getting more vaccines to more people, but I do believe that we need the creativity and innovation power of companies, and this includes patent protection.” the top.
The German policy was straightforward: “If I simply release a patent without being able to control quality well every time, I see more risks than opportunities,” he added.
The question will be posed at the European Council on May 25, when the 27 will once again attempt to settle differences and come to a common position.
Portugal, the host country of the Porto summit, which also insisted on the need to increase production capacity, hopes to reach an agreement.