EU accused of ‘PIRACY’ over AstraZeneca threat – ‘UK funded it, we own patent’ says ex-MEP

UK vaccine success ‘got under skin’ of von der Leyen says expert

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Roger Helmer, a former UKIP and Conservative MEP, blasted Brussels bureaucrats after they threatened to punish Brexit Britain for daring to succeed where the EU failed. But while raging at Britain’s success, the bloc made no mention of the £84million UK taxpayers made to secure the vaccine’s development.

Without this invaluable contribution no vaccine would exist, according to British negotiators heading to Brussels this week.

Reacting to the EU’s glaring double standards, Mr Helmer tweeted: “This is a vital point that we don’t hear often enough.

“We funded the development. We own the patent. It is quite simply OUR VACCINE. If the EU withholds supplies, that is quite simply piracy.”

Twitter users were equally scathing about the EU’s actions.

One wrote: “Why all this peeing about with (the) EU if they ban something that belongs to us STOP THE IMPORT OF GERMAN CARS simple.”

Referring to the EU’s recent trade deal with China, another said: “Just like their new pals in China they don’t respect patents/copyrights etc.”

And mentioning another Covid jab, a third tweeted: “Seems they are holding on to the Pfizer we paid for and provided the raw material for, as well!”

The outburst came after European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the EU could block exports to countries with higher vaccination rates than its own last week.

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This came after the EU accused AstraZeneca of failing to meet obligations it had made to the bloc.

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical company denies the allegations.

The commission president later backtracked after the spat threatened to ignite a trade war between the bloc and the UK.

But that hasn’t stopped widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum.

As news of a possible ban emerged, Boris Johnson said he didn’t believe in vaccine blockades and urged the EU to reconsider its stance.

The two sides later released a joint statement agreeing to work together on supply.

The prime minister later revealed he was “reassured” after speaking with European leaders over coronavirus vaccine exports.

Mr Johnson added: “I’m reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months, they don’t want to see blockades, I think that’s very very important.”

Both parties were due to begin talks on resolving the spat today.

UK negotiators are reportedly going to highlight the vital role that British taxpayers played in developing the vital vaccine, which is manufactured at a plant in Leiden, Netherlands.

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