Ladies and gentlemen,
My name is Rik Daems and I am the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Today marks an important milestone in the work of the Council of Europe, and it is my great honour to welcome you to this celebration of the 10th anniversary of the MEDICRIME convention.
The MEDICRIME convention was drawn up as a response to the rapidly growing problem of falsified medical products. With countless victims, falsified medicines pose a grave threat to the life, health, and safety of people around the world. The MEDICRIME convention offers a coordinated international criminal law framework to address these issues, and as the first legally binding treaty in this field, it marks a milestone achievement.
Our Parliamentary Assembly, I am proud to say, was instrumental in the establishment of this convention.
The groundwork started already in 2004 when the Assembly expressed serious concern over the increasing availability of counterfeit goods. Our Assembly then adopted a recommendation in 2007 in which we explicitly called for a European convention on the suppression of counterfeiting and trafficking in falsified goods – in particular medical products.
Today, 10 years after MEDICRIME convention opened for signature, it has been ratified by 18 States. An additional 18 States are also signatories, including countries in both South America and Africa. In view of its importance and relevance, I call on other countries to sign and ratify this important Council of Europe treaty as soon as possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the vulnerability of our societies to external shocks, and the need for a genuine multilateral cooperation to address challenges linked to medical crises, including securing medical supply chains. Indeed, as the supply was outstripped by demand, in particular at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic for PPE such as masks, concerns were raised over falsification of medicines and medical products, and existing corruption pressures on procurement were amplified. Very recently, on 1 December, our Assembly Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, considered an introductory memorandum on this topic, prepared by our Rapporteur Ms Jennifer De Temmerman from France. She underlined that the MEDICRIME Convention enables multilateral collaboration across nations, disciplines and sectors, and lays the ground for co-operation with and between international bodies such as INTERPOL, Europol, UNODOC, the WCO and WHO, in order to put a stop to this international threat to public health.
Never before has the need for strong international safeguards against falsified medicines been more evident. Deeper cooperation between national and international health, police and customs authorities is therefore a must.
In the Parliamentary Assembly, we will remain at the forefront on this matter. We expect the report of Ms De Temmerman to be debated by the Assembly itself around this time next year. Falsified medical products continue to pose a grave threat to our people and societies – especially in times of a global pandemic. While we can celebrate the progress made, we must continue to encourage our member States and partners around the world to sign and ratify this major piece of international law.
Securing the safety of our citizens is the utmost responsibility for all of us. As parliamentarians, we are ready to do our part and lead the way.
Thank you for your attention.