Katya Adler elegantly sums up EU’s ‘painful’ mess and how it will go from bad to worse
Vaccine row: EU 'can't get over loss of UK' says expert
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The BBC’s Europe Editor provided a summary of the shambolic vaccine programme in Europe in a detailed thread on social media, as Brussels weigh up a ban on sending supplies of the AstraZeneca jab to Britain. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is under mounting pressure to accelerate the number of inoculations in the EU, as Europe prepares for a third coronavirus wave.
The EU chief has already warned the bloc has the power to “forbid” doses from leaving Europe and leaders will meet later this week to discuss banning exports of the AstraZeneca jab from its plant in the Netherlands.
It comes as the UK has administered first doses to more than 50 percent of all adults – compared to around 10 percent across the EU27.
In a post on Twitter, Ms Adler highlighted a YouGov poll that found confidence in the AstraZeneca jab has been severely affected by the unfounded claims by EU leaders who initially questioned its effectiveness and recently partially suspended its use.
The Brussels expert added there was growing frustration in Europe about vaccines being sent to the UK, without jabs coming back in the other direction.
Ms Adler wrote: “Rumbles ongoing about EU now preparing to block expected UK export request from Netherlands-based plant producing AZ jabs.
“The EU has been badly let down by AstraZeneca which promised Brussels tens of millions more jabs than it’s delivered.
“Despite vaccine shortages, EU has continued exporting vaccines produced in the bloc around the world. EU Commission insists the biggest recipient of its vaccine exports has been the UK but it says the UK has not exported any vaccines from its production plants to the EU.
“UK contract with AstraZeneca apparently includes receiving supplies from production plants in EU -like that in the Netherlands.
“EU contract with AstraZeneca says its supplies will be furnished by plants in the EU and the UK.”
Ms Adler highlighted Italy has already broken ranks and stopped the export of AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia.
She added the bloc wants to go even further but insisted this could cause friction between the 27 EU member states.
Ms Adler added: “Italy has already used the powers to ban a shipment of 250,000 AZ jabs to Australia BUT EU Commission wants to go a step further – potentially banning exports of jabs from any pharmaceutical company to countries that have vaccine production facilities, are not exporting to EU.
“And are already far ahead of the EU in their own vaccine rollout. Here the Commission seems to be pointing at the UK in particular. BUT it’s NOT at all clear that the majority of EU countries will accept this Commission proposal.
“Meanwhile EU’s Internal Market Commissioner has been charged with looking for ways to boost EU vaccine production capabilities. It’s proving quite a challenge. EU diplomats comment that this comes rather late in the day and that ‘forward planning’ has been painfully lacking.”
Ireland has already voiced its opposition to the possibility of placing export bans on vaccines, with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin describing it as a “retrograde step”.
He added: “You start putting up barriers, other countries may follow suit in terms of some of those vital raw materials that are required.
“If we start that we are in trouble.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today sought to ease tensions between the UK and Europe.
Speaking during a visit to Lancashire this afternoon, Mr Johnson confirmed he has held talks with the EU over vaccines and was confident there would be no bans.
He said: “I’m reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don’t want to see blockades.
“I think that’s very important.”
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