Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Fifth Report





COM(02) 109

Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on aid for poverty diseases (HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis) in developing countries.

Legal base:

Article 179(1) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting



International Development

Basis of consideration:

Minister's letter of 2 July 2002

Previous Committee Report:

HC 152-xxxi (2001-02), paragraph 1 (22 May 2002)

To be discussed in Council:

November Development Council

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

For debate in European Standing Committee B, together with the document on the World Summit for Sustainable Development (decision reported on 22 May 2002)




    1. This proposed Regulation will provide support for the Programme for Action on Accelerated Action Targeting the Three Major Communicable Diseases in the context of poverty reduction, adopted by the General Affairs Council of 14 May 2001.[16] It provides for a comprehensive package which targets simultaneously development co-operation interventions, trade relations and research for new pharmaceutical products, for the three major communicable diseases affecting the poor: HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB).
    2. When we considered this document on 22 May, we recommended it for debate in European Standing Committee B, together with the draft Council Conclusions prepared for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September. We asked the Minister to bring us up to date on the key issues under discussion in the negotiations on the proposal in time to consider the new information before the debate.
    3. The Minister's letter

    4. In a letter dated 2 July, the Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short) tells us that the draft Regulation has largely been agreed, with negotiations since May focussing on two areas: the financial reference amount and language on TRIPS[17] and Doha. She recalls that the Commission initially proposed a reference amount of _75 million, of which _35 million would be allocated to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM). She comments further:
    5. "The Government believes the draft Regulation to be a very useful part of the EC's broader efforts to support poverty reduction, and believes it important that the EC maintain a substantial level of contributions to the GFATM in order that it can retain its Board seat through the vital initial period in which the Fund is shaped. We have therefore been advocating an increase in the reference amount. The European Parliament's Development Committee has also proposed an increase.

      "However, there has been little support for an increase in the process leading up to Budget Council, and the Spanish Presidency proposed an overall budget package for Category 4[18] which includes a cut of _15 million in the allocation for this Regulation. Because the overall package increased the poverty focus of Category 4 and imposed no cuts to the Asia or Humanitarian Aid budgets, we concluded that the risks of re-opening the package at this stage outweighed the fairly limited possibility of reversing the cut to this regulation. Assuming Budget Council on 19 July approves the package, it will be for the Parliament's Budget Committee to consider whether the financial allocation for this regulation is appropriate. The Development Committee will also be influential as discussions on the reference amount continue. Meanwhile, there is a possibility of some EDF[19] funding for the regulation, though no firm proposal has been forthcoming to date.

      "The other issue under discussion has been language on TRIPS and Doha. As you know, the Government is strongly committed to improving access to medicines in developing countries. Our Working Group on Access to Medicines, set up last summer, is due to hold its final meeting on 25 July and report back soon thereafter. It has made good progress in outlining a package of measures to bring about widespread, sustainable and predictable differential pricing of essential medicines in the poorest countries. We have been working closely with the Commission, the World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation and others in advancing this work. The challenge for the coming year will be to bring other international stakeholders on board and to begin to implement the package."

    6. The Minister adds that the European Parliament has tabled some amendments but the UK and other Member States have recommended that the text of the Regulation should not seek to undermine or over-ride the Doha Declaration on the same issues, in ways which could be unhelpful in building an international consensus around access to medicines. She says that the Commission has agreed to put the Member States' amendments back to the European Parliament.
    7. Conclusion

    8. The debate in European Standing Committee B on this document is due to take place on 8 July. We provide this short Report in order to supply up-to-date information to those who might attend the debate.


16  Not deposited. Back

17  Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights. Back

18  The external actions budget heading. Back

19  European Development Fund. Back

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Prepared 19 July 2002