Saturday, 16 Oct 2021

Cheerio, Ursula! Hapless Von der Leyen could QUIT due to EU vaccine farce

EU are ‘commandeering UK over vaccine supply’ says Malone

And Pieter Cleppe believes the former German defence minister could be forced to quit as European Commission President if the pressure intensifies – especially if close ally, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, turns against her. Mr Cleppe, a research fellow with the think tank Property Rights Alliance, was speaking after a tumultuous few days during which the European Commission, led by Mrs von der Leyen, triggered Article 16 of the Northern Irish Protocol, stopping COVID-19 vaccines from crossing the border.

The decision was rapidly reversed in the wake of furious protests from London, Dublin and Belfast, with Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster calling it an “incredible act of hostility”.

Mr Cleppe said the episode had left Mrs von der Leyen with egg on her face – and an uncertain future, given the nature of her humiliating climbdown.

He told Express.co.uk: “For now, she apparently still enjoys the German government’s support, but if more failures related to EU vaccine policy would appear and if that would have a clear effect on the Covid pandemic in the EU, it is not excluded she’ll resign under the pressure.

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She has been weakened

Pieter Cleppe

For now, she has been weakened. This will also have an effect on negotiations on smoothening East-West trade in Northern Ireland.”

Nor was the 62-year-old the only person to have been damaged, Mr Cleppe stressed.

He explained: “The EU Commission’s credibility has been hurt here.

“It was always clear that any serious problems with preventing goods slipping into the EU’s single market would come from big European ports like Rotterdam, Antwerp or Hamburg, not from some UK route through Northern Ireland.

“So the EU will now need to become more flexible here.”

Speaking yesterday, Mrs von der Leyen appeared keen to pin the blame on Valdis Dombrovkis, the European Commissioner with responsibility for trade.

Her spokesman, Eric Mamer told reporters: “What I can tell you is that there is one cabinet which was lead on this, that is Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis because he is in charge of trade

“This regulation falls under the responsibility of Mr Dombrovskis and his cabinet and of course the services of the commission which respond to him.”

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In response, Mr Dombrovskis said he had acted “at the request of – and with inputs from – relevant Cabinets and services at the Commission to address those public health considerations.”

He added: “This transparency and authorisation mechanism for vaccines was created in response to the public health emergency in the EU, to provide greater transparency over vaccine supplies.”

Also speaking yesterday, Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Foreign Minister, was keen to give Mrs von der Leyen the benefit of the doubt.

He said: “I think it was a mistake that everybody recognises should not have happened.

“I mean in simple terms, you do not touch the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland without full consultation with the people who are most impacted by it.

“The Irish government, the British government and, perhaps most importantly, political leaders in Northern Ireland.

“That’s what happened on Friday, which should not have happened. And I think lessons have been learned as a result of that, and it certainly won’t happen again.”

Nevertheless, Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahama’s, said Dublin, and especially Taoiseach Micheal Martin, had been left badly rattled.

Mr Bassett told Express.co.uk: “Irish political figures are showing understanding in public but in private they are deeply troubled by the Commission’s actions.

“The image of the EU, and in particular Ursula von der Leyen, has taken a very bad knock in Ireland.

“The bizarre attempt by Brussels to tear up the NI Protocol demonstrated that Ireland does not count in its deliberations.

“The country was useful during the Brexit discussions but with Brexit completed, there is no further need to placate or even consider Dublin.”

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