SOTEU 2023: Reconciling policy and practice

For one of Europe’s biggest most strategically important industries, it was extremely encouraging to hear President von der Leyen’s commitment that Europe will do whatever it takes to keep its competitive edge.[1]

What lies ahead is working with the Commission, Members of the European Parliament and Member States to reconcile that commitment with the policy in practice. In the case of the research-based pharmaceutical industry, that means ensuring that the proposals in the revised pharmaceutical legislation published earlier this year will help the industry regain its competitive edge rather than continue to lose jobs, investment and growth to the US and China.

In its current form, the draft legislation will further damage the competitiveness of an industry that contributes more to the EU balance of trade than any other sector as well as €200bn to the European economy, employs around 865,000 people in Europe and invests €43bn in research and development in the region every year.

We hope that the renewed emphasis on competitiveness has not come too late for our sector as the draft legislation was published earlier this year.

The impact on SMEs is a prime example of where we need to work to reconcile #SOTEU’s expressed objectives and what has effectively occurred so far for our sector. Announcing her intent to appoint an EU SME Envoy, President von der Leyen underlined the importance of making it easier to do business particularly for European SMEs. She indicated she was waiting to hear directly from small and medium sized business about their everyday challenges.[2] So far, the direct feedback from the life science SME community on proposals ahead of the draft legislation’s publication, have not been taken onboard.

Let’s get behind the President’s commitment to a competitiveness check for every new piece of legislation by an independent Board, by starting with one on the draft Pharma Legislation. Let’s give our support to her commitment to making it easier for SME to do business in Europe by addressing the issues SMEs have expressed with the draft legislation with the aim of stopping their exodus to the US.

Our hope now is that we can work with all parties to make the legislation enhance rather than hinder European competitiveness while coming together to address access to medicines outside of the legislation with all relevant stakeholders.