Von der Leyen set for vaccine chaos showdown with MEPs…but will be behind closed doors
EU are ‘commandeering UK over vaccine supply’ says Malone
Von der Leyen will face a high level of scrutiny from representatives from across the 27-member bloc – but not with members of the media or public present. The Brussels chief will hold group meetings with MEPs “in a closed setting” with members of the centre-right EPP group and the liberal Renew Europe group, according to EuroNews.
She will be pressed to explain how the EU’s vaccine contract with AstraZeneca could have been hit by such a massive setback.
Last month the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker announced there would be significant shortfalls to early vaccine deliveries.
The bloc had been expecting the arrival of 100 million doses of the jab in the first quarter of 2021.
Brussels’ handling of the chaotic vaccine programme was torn apart by EU critics.
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One German newspaper, Die Zeit, went as far as to dub the mess “the best advertisement for Brexit”.
On Sunday, Mrs von der Leyen rejected suggestions that Europe was in a race to vaccinate its population against the coronavirus faster than other countries.
Her rebuttal came after the bloc’s slow pace of delivering vaccines was compared to the stronger performance of the UK, Israel and the US on the same front.
The head of the European Commission said it was important to cooperate at this stage of the pandemic.
Mrs von der Leyen said: “I think the only race we are in is with the virus and against time.”
She said the EU wants 70 percent of adults in members states to be vaccinated by the end of the summer.
She also said she had agreed with Boris Johnson that vaccines produced on both sides of the Channel would go to both regions.
And in a video from No 10 filmed on Sunday, Mr Johnson assured a member of the public who raised concerns over whether she will get her follow-up shot of the Belgian-made Pfizer vaccine.
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The Prime Minister said: “We’re very confident that we will be able to give you your second dose.”
He added: “You will have seen all this stuff in the papers about our friends across the Channel and disputes with them.
“All I would say is whatever the toings and froings there, we’re very confident in our security of supply.
“We will continue to take steps to protect the UK’s security of supply and also to ensure that we ramp up our own manufacturing.”
On Friday the Prime Minister held emergency talks with Mrs von der Leyen after Brussels moved to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Brexit agreement, in a move that risked a hard border with the Republic, with the EU later backing down.
Mr Johnson insisted he wants the UK to get vaccinated “at the same time” as the rest of Europe and the world.
He said: “There’s no point one country on its own getting vaccinated.”
But with predictions that the nation will ultimately have a surplus of jabs after vaccinating the population, questions have turned to when the Government will help other nations.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss earlier said it is “too early” to determine when the UK will send vaccines abroad.
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