NEW DELHI: The European Union on Saturday did not provide a clear position on whether it supports a proposal to temporarily waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines after the issue was discussed at a virtual India-EU meeting.
Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said at a media briefing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited the EU to support the proposal by India and South Africa to waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines so that there can be equitable vaccine access for the entire world.
“The prime minister requested the EU’s support for our joint proposal with South Africa for a TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver on vaccine production-related patents,” he said.
“The US has also supported the proposal a couple of days ago. The EU’s support at WTO for this waiver will ensure that we can scale up the vaccine production for equitable and global access and save lives,” he said.
EU officials said there was no concrete decision on the matter.
Swarup said India will be watching the evolving EU position on the matter.
The virtual meeting was participated by leaders of 27 member states of the EU.
“When it comes to a proposal of a temporary TRIPS waiver for vaccine international property rights, I think it is very important that we should be open to this discussion,” President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said after the Leaders’ meeting.
She said issues relating to licensing, price of licensing and investment for capacity building are also very important and all stakeholders should discuss them.
“These are important topics to discuss. We should be aware of the fact that these are topics for the long-term. These are not topics for short or medium term,” she told reporters.
At the same time, she said: “We should not lose sight of main emergencies now which is ramping up vaccine production as quickly as possible.”
The top EU official also said that the countries which are producing COVID-10 vaccines in a large scale must keep the exports open.
“We are the only democratic region in the world that is producing vaccines at large scale and exporting at least 50 per cent of the production,” she said.
In the meeting, Modi appreciated the EU’s swift response for mobilising support to India’s COVID-19 response.
“Our collaboration is essential to stopping the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring a sustainable and inclusive recovery in a more digital and greener world,” Modi said in a tweet.
“I thank the leaders of EU and its Member States for their continued commitment to strengthening relationship with India. I also thank my friend Prime Minister @antoniocostapm for this initiative and according high priority to India during Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council,” he said in another tweet.
In the media briefing, Swarup, referring to economic cooperation, said both sides also agreed to have dedicated dialogues on WTO issues, regulatory cooperation, market access issues and supply chain resilience, demonstrating the desire to deepen and further diversify our economic engagement.
In the meeting, India and the EU also reiterated their commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris agreement and agreed to strengthen joint efforts for mitigation, adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change.
India and the EU also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation on digital and emerging technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and quantum and high-performance computing including through the early operationalisation of the joint task force on AI and the Digital Investment Forum.