Not surprising: the European Union statement re the agenda:
Day 1 of SCCR 30 Information Session
Find a few Juicy bits from the long "Information Session on Broadcasting" that started this morning and was continued way passed the planned time of 4pm. It was also the least balanced panel I have ever seen at a WIPO SCCR. A handful of broadcasters, one media analyst, one journalist at the BBC, the WIPO Secretariat represented by Ann Leer (who worked for Paramount, Oxford University Press, BBC, and Financial Times/Pearson and the BBC).
Basically there was no one remotely critical of the proposed treaty nor any public interest representative.
Today we are in endless "informational" session, chaired by John Simpson from the BBC, and featuring big broadcasters from India (Zee Network), and Brazil (TV Globo), ABN Holdings Ltd (ABN) (A company headquartered England, about) and the Caribbean Communications Network Limited.
SCCR 30 Day 1 June 29, 2015
The SCCR 30 started with the same industry representatives we usually meet here: the MPA, FIJ, IAF, CISAC, Croplife, IFPI, ABA etc... There are also quite a large group of library and archives representatives (IFLA, eifl, Archives etc). However there are many empty chairs for the public interest or pro development NGOs. Some might arrive later?
EU TRADE DAY: Do trade agreements represent the forward march of “EU values” or are they “zombie deals” against the public interest?
EU Trade Day #EutradeDay took place on June 23rd organized by the Directorate General of Trade of the European Commission and attended by over 500 representatives of businesses, NGO´s, consumers and trade-unions. There was a plenary session led by EC Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom and ten parallel break-out sessions that covered many diverse issues. Commisioner Malmstrom said that trade was one of the key ways the EU extends its social, economic and environmental values around the world and that these agreements should be carried out with a “bottom-up” approach with the wide participation of civil society. One of the main objectives of the day was to collect ideas for the EU´s new Trade Strategy that will be published in October of this year. (See BEUC position: http://www.beuc.org/publications/beuc-x-2015-060_consumers_at_the_heart_of_trade_policy.pdf )
The General Secretary of the Trade Union Council Francis O’Grady broke the ice by flatly stating that “zombie trade deals that are not in the public interest should be rejected” and concretely on the ISDS debate: “”The row in the European Parliament over foreign investor privileges in the EU-US trade deal proves that old-style Investor State Dispute Settlement is dead – no one supports it any more, on the left, on the right or in the Commission. And yet, zombie-like, it lives on in the Canada- EU deal, unreformed, unamended, and unacceptable.”
On the other side, the Eurochambre business representative and other industry leaders at the session on “How trade affects peoples lives”, insisted that “international trade has always been an important driver of progress by creating jobs, by benefitting EU companies and through promoting economic development in South.” Business Europe was convinced that “China has an increasing portion of world trade and as result is experiencing more evolution, more innovation and more competition.” Little mention was made by these representatives of how trade affects peoples lives.
French economist Messerlin stated that the “EU made a big mistake by putting talks over regulations under a trade agreement as opposed to direct ongoing transatlantic talks between regulators of US and EU”. He also said that many economists have doubts about including intellectual property protection in trade agreements because this means granting new temporary economic monopolies. He insisted that one thing was open trade and something else was regulatory harmonization, much of which will never happen between the US and the EU. One civil society attendee summed it up: “Today I learned that international trade is not about international trade.”
Many speakers voiced opposition to higher regulatory standards in trade agreements with countries of South because it would make it harder for them to compete on the world market. Many industry and Commission representatives referred to the trickle-down effect of international trade that ends up benefitting the majority by creating jobs.
Concern was expressed by some experts and Ngos of the possible regulatory chill effect trade agreements can have on public health measures to assure access to medicines, food safety and protection from toxic chemicals. In the case of locking in the high price of medicines the representative of Merck Pharmaceuticals responded that the principal problem was the lack of infrastructures and hospitals and not the high price of medicines often backed by rules included in trade agreements.
A number of civil society representatives and experts complained that while the purely economic aspects of international trade agreements and WTO rules had binding mechanisms for compliance while consumer rights, public health, environment and labour rights did not have equivalent enforcement measures.
In general, while many in the European Commission and industry representatives stated that the promotion of trade is usually a win-win situation in which the common good in health, environment and consumer rights are benefitted by expected economic growth and more jobs, there was also great concern among many citizens organizations that large economic interests influencing trade can easily trump greater public interest objectives.
EU Trade Day is the latest in a series of participatory events on trade as part of the recent “charm offensive” to show that the EU wants truly “bottom-up” approach to trade. But it still remains to be seen if civil society opinions will be decisive in the future of EU international trade negotiations and agreements.
“Twenty one EU member states now agree to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty under EU competence and with a few more countries favourable there will be a qualified majority for the EU Council to ratify.”
This was the most important news given by the European Commission in the European Parliament on Wednesday speaking at an event sponsored by a cross-party group of MEPs and co-organized by the European Disability Forum, the European Blind Union, the World Blind Union and the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue. Two years after the international agreement was reached on a text for the Marrakesh Treaty for the Visually-impaired and while many countries around the world are already ratifying, EU ratification is blocked in the Council due to the “usual political power fight” among member states, according to Jazmin Battista, member of the Cabinet of Andrius Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Single Market.
On Wednesday, June 24th over 50 people from blind persons organizations,
NGOs, members of the European Parliament and the European Commission. MEPs from all the major political groups, Koch (EPP from Germany), Gasbarra (Socialist from Italy), Andersson(Green from Sweden), Girauta (Liberal from Spain) and Kuneva (Leftist from Greece), have committed themselves to act in favour of EU ratification both within the Parliament and through pressure in EU member states. MEPs also referred to an amendment in favor of swift EU ratification of Marrakesh in the Reda report on copyright that will be voted on in the Parliament´s July plenary session. Commissioners´ Ansip and Oettinger sent high-level members of their Cabinets to show their support for swift ratification and their commitment to guarantee the right to read of visually impaired persons in Europe and around the world. Maria Martín Prat, the head of the EU´s copyright unit also took an active part in the meeting.
The presidents of the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the European Blind Union (EBU), Yannis Vardakastanis and Wolfgang Angermann, respectively, explained the importance and the legal context of the Marrakesh Treaty within the long fight for the rights of persons with disabilities. They both stressed that the great effort invested in getting the Treaty could not be wasted now due to political in-fighting and procedural delays. The EDF´s president said in was unacceptable and against international law that important legislation for persons with disabilities such as the Marrakesh Treaty “was sleeping in the EU Council”. The EBU‘s president said that blind persons could not wait any longer to have access to 95% of the books which today are still un accessible and would start to be available with the treaty.
The representatives of the European Commission, without supplying any details, mentioned that they had proposed a “compromise” to EU member states to achieve swift EU ratification and that 21 countries had accepted the proposal. It is known that Germany and Italy have not accepted the proposal due to a rejection of exclusive EU competence to ratify the Treaty (despite the fact that almost all legal experts confirm there is no doubt about this).
The meeting concluded with the determination to take the ratification campaign to the national level, in particular to Germany and Italy, and to prepare a specific resolution on the issue in the European Parliament.
Among House Democrats supporting Fast Track, 24 of 28 received money from drug and medical device PACS
I spent a bit of time to look at the contributions from selected drug and medical device Political Action Committees (PACs) to the 28 House Democrats who voted for fast track on June 18, 2015.
We just received a reply from a September 17, 2013 FOIA request KEI filed with USTR, asking for correspondence involving General Electric's efforts to block the WIPO Treaty for the Blind. USTR provided 24 pages of documents, available here:
Norway delivered the following statement on non-violation and situation complaints at the June 2015 meeting of the WTO TRIPS Council.As delivered
TRIPS COUNCIL MEETING 9 AND 10 JUNE 2015
6. NON-VIOLATION AND SITUATION COMPLAINTS
Statement by Norway
- We would like to join the overwhelming majority of members that have intervened today.
TRIPS Council June 2015: Norway provides unequivocal support of LDC Group request for extension of the transition period
On Wednesday, 10 June 2015, Norway - a high-income member of the WTO with a GDP per capita of 100,898 USD- (Source: World Bank, 2013) delivered this powerful intervention supporting the LDC Group request for an extension of the transition period for pharmaceutical products. On the LDC Group's specific request on extension until graduation, Norway said,
Today the Legal Affairs Committee approved an amendment in favour of a copyright exception for text and data mining with the Reda Report on copyright.
Stresses the need to properly assess the enablement of automated analytical techniques for text and data (e.g. ‘text and data mining’ or ‘content mining’) for research purposes, provided that permission to read the work has been acquired;
Today the European Parliament´s Legal Affairs Committee approved the amendment below within the Reda Report on Copyright.
Underlines the importance of exceptions and limitations being accessible for persons with disabilities; in this regard notes the conclusion of the Marrakesh Treaty, which will facilitate access for the visually impaired to books, and encourages swift ratification; believes that the Treaty is a good step forward, but that much work remains to be done in order to open up access to content for people with different disabilities;
Following the Friday vote in the House of Representatives which effectively blocked movement (for now) on the Trade Promotion Authority, and more generally, slowed down the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, I was contacted by Dr. Harvey Bale, the well known former Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA). In an exchange on Facebook, Dr. Bale took favorable note of the outcome on fast track, and described the vote against fast track as "A very good day, Indeed." I asked Dr.
WTO TRIPS Council (June 2015): India underscores the importance of de-linkage in discussions of financing innovation
In discussions at the June 2015 WTO TRIPS Council on the role of intellectual property in financing innovation, India underscored its commitment to the principle of de-linkage by stating,
Innovation should not be viewed within the narrow prism of intellectual property monopolies but framed within a holistic, knowledge ecosystem that includes open innovation, open knowledge approaches and de-linkage of R&D costs from product prices
On Tuesday, 9 June 2015, India delivered the following statement on Non-Violation and Situational Complaints (IP/C/W/385/Rev 1). Brazil introduced the paper along with 16 other WTO members including India. The 17 co-sponsors of this paper include Argentina, Plurinational State of Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Peru, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka and Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
The joint submission proposes the following action item for the Nairobi Ministerial from 15 December 2015 to 18 December 2015:
Attached below is a May 20, 2015 letter from Duke researchers to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, setting our problems in the TPP IP Chapter. The letter is signed by Jason Cross, the Director of the Innovation & Technology Policy Lab (ITPLab) at the Sanford School of Public Policy & Duke Law School, at Duke University.
The whole letter (available in PDF format here) is worth reading. Here are a few sections from the letter:
Attached is a 2 page summary of the main provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that will lead to higher prices for drugs and other medical technologies.
A pdf version of the note is available here: http://keionline.org/sites/default/files/KEI-TPP-Briefing-2015-2-A2M.pdfWhat does the TPP do as regards prices of drugs and other medical technologies?
KEI TPP Briefing note 2015:2
June 10, 2015
WTO TRIPS Council (June 2015): LDC Group Presentation on the Extension of the Decision on Pharmaceutical Products
The LDC Group delivered the following statement on Wednesday, 8 June 2015 during WTO TRIPS Council discussions on their request on the extension of the decision on pharmaceutical products.PRESENTATION BY THE LDCS GROUP TO THE TRIPS COUNCIL ON THE EXTENSION OF THE DECISION ON PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS, 09-10 JUNE 2015
I make this presentation on behalf of the LDCs group. We thank you for calling this meeting and for your report.
WTO TRIPS Council: World Health Organization issues unequivocal support of LDC transition period for pharmaceutical products
Today, on Wednesday, 10 June 2015, the World Trade Organization's TRIPS Council discussed the LDC Group's Request for an Extension of the Transitional Period Under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement for Least Developed Country Members with Respect to Pharmaceutical Products and for Waivers from the Obligation of Articles 70.8 and 70.9 of the TRIPS Agreement (Source: IP/C/W/605).
KEI is circulating a sign on letter to be sent to Ambassador Michael Froman of USTR. We learned that in a USTR has been stating that there was no evidence that stronger intellectual property rules created barriers for access to medicine.
This is a shocking statement for USTR to make, and we are seeking confirmation and clarification of USTR's assertion. The text of our letter follows below.
If you would like to sign on to this letter, please send your name, city and state of residence, and affiliation if any, along with contact details (only for confirmation if necessary), to: