The EU’s Compulsory Licensing Regulation is an opportunity to put people before profit in times of crisis.

Learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Parliament today voted through the new regulation, which offers a mechanism to address future crises by mandating provision of licences to make key products such as vaccines.

A positive step, but with one gaping flaw.

While the proposal makes it easier to use compulsory licences within the EU, The Left wanted to seize this moment for real international solidarity and remove bans on exports of critical pharmaceutical products to third countries during such crises. However, the liberals and the right showed once again that when the chips are down, their allegiance is to Big Pharma above all.


Left MEP Emmanuel Maurel (La France Insoumise, France) said:

“Providing a compulsory licence at a Union level is absolutely necessary to address future pandemics or other disasters (i.e. being able to lift patents in the event of a health crisis). Even if we would have liked to broaden further the scope for exporting goods resulting from these licences, we will still fight further for global equality in times of health crisis. Nevertheless, this is an important victory.”

Left MEP Helmut Scholz (Die Linke, Germany) added:

“The new compulsory licensing system is an important step to prepare the EU for future health crises. However, I deeply regret that MEPs fail to recognise the realities of our interconnected world. The Committee for International Trade had objected to export bans on medicines produced under the new licence. Unfortunately, a conservative majority has not been ready to go beyond soapbox speeches for global solidarity by allowing for easier exports in health emergencies.”

Trilogues on the regulation will begin in the next Parliamentary mandate.

Related Meps

Emmanuel Maurel

La Gauche Républicaine et Socialiste

Helmut Scholz


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