Home » World News » EU vaccine export ban: Can Ursula von der Leyen REALLY block jab export? Is it legal?
EU vaccine export ban: Can Ursula von der Leyen REALLY block jab export? Is it legal?
March 21, 2021
Vaccine row: Marr grills EU commissioner on 'unused' doses
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Ursula von der Leyen has raised the stakes in the vaccine war between the EU and UK as she delivered a stark message to providers. The European Commission President has threatened to block the export of vaccines if AstraZeneca fails to meet its commitments to European countries – despite dozens suspending the rollout over fears about blood clots.
Speaking this weekend, the Brussels boss said: “We have the possibility to forbid planned exports.
“That is the message to AstraZeneca, ‘You fulfil your contract with Europe before you start delivering to other countries.’”
Her stark message came after the very public EU feud with AstraZeneca reached fever pitch, with Europe having received just 30 percent of the agreed quantity of 90 million doses.
She added: “There are a number of outstanding issues with regard to the contract that we now need to clarify, to this end we have sent a formal reminder to AstraZeneca.”
READ MORE: EU loses the plot: Brussels considers UK vaccine export ban
The row is expected to be discussed at an EU summit this coming week, with France, Germany, Italy and Denmark expects to back the EC President.
France’s European Affairs minister Clement Beaune supported Ms von der Leyen’s position, saying Europe must “defend its interests.”
He added: “We need a principle of reciprocity: supply others if they supply us in accordance with signed contracts.”
But some nations are concerned the feud could harm the EU if it escalates into a trade war.
Can the EU REALLY block vaccine exports?
Ms von der Leyen said Brussels had the right to ban the export of vaccines to the UK. But according to a UK Government official, such a move would be illegal.
The source told the Daily Mail: “The reality is our contract with AstraZeneca is rock-solid and better than the EU’s.
“And we’re only getting what we helped to develop and paid for.”
While Defence Secretary Ben Wallace this morning warned that any attempt by the European Union to block vaccine exports would be “counterproductive”.
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He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “The European Union will know that the rest of the world is looking at the commission at how it conducts itself.
“If contracts and undertakings get broken that is a very damaging thing to happen for a trading bloc which prides itself on the rule of law.
“It would be counterproductive because the one thing we know about vaccine production and manufacturing is that it is collaborative.
“How the vaccine is manufactured involves countries not just in Europe, not just the United Kingdom, but even further afield in such places as India.
“If we start to unpick that, if the commission were to start to do that, I think they would undermine not only their citizens’ chances of having a proper vaccine programme, but also many other countries around the world with the reputational damage to the EU, I think, they would find very hard to change over the short-term.”
Vaccine: Von der Leyen hints at slowing of exports to UK
However, to be on the safe side, the Government is thought to be in talks over moving production of the vaccine to British shores.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi are believed to have held talks on how to make Britain more self-sufficient in terms of its vaccine creation.
A source said: “There is a lot of domestic production already. We are always looking at ways we can increase vaccine production in the UK.
“The Government is looking at ways vaccine supplies can be increased all the time.”
The row between the UK and Europe comes as India, the world’s biggestvaccinemaker, delayed the exportation of the Covid jabs.
The nation is currently experiencing a second wave of the virus and has faced criticism for donating or selling more doses than inoculations conducted at home.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the UK would have less supply of the vaccine “than we might have hoped for in the coming weeks but we expect it to increase again through the course of April”.
He added: “The month of April will be different – and it was always going to be – because I think this will be the month that second jabs exceed first jabs.”