The European Parliament voted today in favour of a joint resolution on meeting the global COVID-19 challenge, and for a WTO TRIPS waiver. Samira Rafaela was the negotiator for this resolution on behalf of my group Renew Europe. With the resolution, we address many pressing challenges to make vaccines more widely available worldwide.

Most importantly, the resolution takes an inclusive approach in addressing the health challenges the world faces during the pandemic. This includes taking away export barriers and export bans for vaccines and the material to make them. Additionally, we need to do more to facilitate COVAX. The resolution calls on the EU and our partners to increase financial, as well as non-financial contributions to COVAX significantly. It also includes addressing expanding production capacity worldwide. This is crucial to vaccinate enough people worldwide, and to tackle future variants of COVID-19. Expanding production capacity in Africa is of importance in this regard. The EU committed 1 billion euro to expand production on the continent. An important first step.

Key in expanding worldwide production is the possibility to produce the most effective vaccines immediately. At this moment, countries and companies worldwide who are ready to produce the vaccine are not able to do so because of strict intellectual property rights protection and unwillingness from pharmaceutical companies to share their patens, expertise and technology worldwide to expand global production. Though intellectual property protection is very important, the current crisis justifies a time-limited and proportional waiver of intellectual property rights to expand global production rapidly.

In the resolution, the European Parliament called for the European Commission and Member States to engage in proactive, constructive and text-based negotiations for a temporary waiver of patents in the World Trade Organization. Engaging in negotiations as soon as possible has to potential to eventually lead to vaccines being more widely available.

These steps are vital for the world vaccination efforts. This is especially the case for developing countries. We cannot accept that the most vulnerable are at risk while richer nations are almost done vaccinating their population. Not showing global solidarity from the EU is a moral failure of our values. The international community must do whatever it takes to expand the production and distribution of vaccines.