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The President of the European Parliament

Press Release : Strasbourg, 15 November 2001

Right of access to medicines: Nicole Fontaine expresses satisfaction at the political progress made by the WTO in Doha
Following the Ministerial Conference in Doha, the President of the European Parliament has expressed satisfaction at the political progress made by the WTO in recognising the need to ensure that the poorest countries having to cope with epidemics including HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria are given easier access to medicines.

'The ministers meeting in Doha acknowledged that the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights does not and should not prevent the WTO member countries from taking action to protect public health. This is an entirely positive political development, which must be seen as a major step forward in that it shows that the international community as a whole has now realised that it is unacceptable to deprive certain countries of access to the medicines they require to treat whole sections of their populations', Mrs Fontaine said. 'It is my most fervent hope that no time will be lost in giving practical effect to this political statement, since this is a real emergency.'

'In general, the Doha agreements enable the multilateral negotiations to get back on track, while taking due account of the concerns of the developing countries and making reference to the environment; this can only be a good thing, particularly in the current international situation', Mrs Fontaine added. She also expressed satisfaction at 'the European Union's major contribution to the success of the conference, and the active role played by the European Parliament delegation'.

'However, much still remains to be done in order to give social issues greater prominence in international trade relations, and I cannot but regret the fact that only one reference was made to the ILO standards', she concluded.

For further information, contact Etienne Bassot on +32/475 35 19 43
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