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EP gets it (almost) right

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The Parliament, under the leadership of Alessia Mosca has launched a report on the EU strategy for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries. It is a well-timed report, arriving just as the EU searches for growth sources in a global economy, using its major assets of knowledge-based goods and services.

Those goods and services rely on IP protection. The argument that this protection is appropriate only to developed economies no longer holds any water. In fact, the growing economic strength of the emerging economies points not only to both a reasonable expectation of protection on the part of the EU but also to a clear self-interest on the part of these countries in fostering indigenous innovative capacity.

That these countries must perform a balancing act is very clear. On the one hand, domestic industrial development is a must, on the other by strengthening IP, some domestic actors potentially may lose out in the interests of strengthening the economic base in the longer-term. The policies and practices that we see on the ground reflect clearly this tension, particularly in the failure to adopt agreed international standards or the decision to leave gaps in implementation for the benefit of the domestic industry. Against this backdrop, the Parliament rightly champions the need for protection and enforcement and the inclusion of IP in interactions with trade partners at all levels.

So with the Parliament questioning the degree of coherence between internal and external policy and between different areas of EU policy, how should the EU respond to this agenda? Backing the dissemination of innovation, while maintaining a cutting-edge in domestic innovation support would represent an effective strategy to boost European global competitiveness.

Focusing on the pharmaceutical sector, we have a number of strong measures in place, including the Innovative Medicines Initiative – Europe’s largest public-private partnership – high-quality medicines regulation, and an IP regime that rises above the international baseline to arm the EU against potential competitors as a more supportive environment for innovation. One blot on the EU landscape is the lack of a coherent approach to economic diversity, as this affects access to medicines.

Parliament may voice its opinions, but they fall short of an effective response to both access and domestic industrial policy needs. EFPIA would like to see a coherent strategy for the sector, which should address the issue of competitiveness for both the innovative and generic sectors. The EU must also explore how it might respond to the welcome movement towards expanding global access to care.

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EFPIA IP & Global Health Director

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