European Council President Charles Michel has proposed using Article 122 TFEU of the EU Treaty to allow the release of vaccine patents and licences. This article is intended for emergencies. Sven Giegold, spokesperson for the German Green Party in the European Parliament, said:
“The EU should allow the release of vaccine patents via Article 122 of the EU Treaty in order to rapidly expand the production of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. In cases where the vaccine developer cannot afford to expand production itself, we should resort to the release of patents.
Council President Charles Michel has now outlined the legal possibilities for releasing the licences by means of Article 122. Article 122 can help us to take full advantage of market opportunities in vaccine production. The Corona crisis is justification enough to use this emergency article in the EU Treaty. Europe must now do all it can to expand vaccine production. AstraZeneca’s vaccine can be produced by many other companies. We should make full use of global production capacities so that a vaccine can be made available to everyone in the world quickly. Indian producers, for example, have already offered to support production on several occasions. AstraZeneca should be generously compensated so that the vaccine can be transferred into the public domain and produced with all the forces of the market.
In this pandemic, patent protection prevents us from taking full advantage of industry opportunities in vaccine production. The licensing model is economically inefficient in the short term. In normal times, we accept it because patents creates incentives for research and development. In the current crisis, the health of billions of people is at stake. Every delay increases the social and economic damage. In this situation, the licensing model may lead to unacceptable results. We should decouple the development and production of vaccines. This would not be an unacceptable market intervention: it is about making full use of the market’s potential in vaccine production. So it would amount to more market, not less. The real market intervention is licensing and patent protection. Generous remuneration of vaccine developers maintains incentives for research and development. Patent protection in this situation should not prevent us from taking full advantage of the industry’s production capabilities.”