VDL hell-bent on wrecking UK relations to cover-up EU vaccine flop, say German MEPs
Vaccine row: Remainers seeing EU's true colours says MP
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German MEPs leapt on the European Commission president’s threat to seize life-saving vaccines heading to Britain. They insisted the move could have detrimental consequences for the EU in the future as it closes the door on the bloc’s nearest foreign partner. German MEP Gunnar Beck said: “If vaccination should prove the way forward in containing the Covid infection wave, the EU is risking the lives of its own citizens for short-lived political gains.
“Ill-considered vaccine export bans may be the prelude to a sustained protectionist campaign to hamper UK-EU trade relations.”
Nicolaus Fest, his countryman and fellow MEP, added: “Ursula von der Leyen seems that she’s desperate enough to do whatever it takes to cover-up Brussels failings, even if it means further damaging the EU’s relations with the UK.”
In a provocative move, Mrs von der Leyen yesterday announced that Brussels was considering using the so-called Article 122 – last used in the 1970s – to seize control of vaccination factories, ban exports and tear up patents for the Oxford jabs.
The top eurocrat insisted it was in order to grab “Europe’s fair share” of vaccines from Britain.
She told a Brussels news conference: “It’s hard to explain to our citizens why vaccines produced in the EU are going to other countries that are also producing vaccines, while hardly anything is coming back.
“All options are on the table – we are in the crisis of the century and I’m not ruling out anything for now because we have to make sure Europeans are vaccinated as soon as soon as possible.”
If the former German defence minister decides to escalate the row, it could see Britain’s supply of Pfizer vaccines – made in Belgium – blocked from leaving the Continent.
The bloc is furious at shortfalls in vaccine deliveries to member states by UK-based AstraZeneca.
Mrs von der Leyen claimed the Anglo-Swedish is not using its factories in Britain to supply mainland Europe.
And now she will seek to crackdown the firm unless it starts shipping more doses of the Oxford-produced vaccine to member states.
Boris Johnson warned the EU it must “stand by its commitments”.
The Prime Minister spoke to Mrs von der Leyen last night in a phone call.
And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused Brussels of acting like a dictatorship.
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He said: “Frankly, I’m surprised we’re having this conversation. It is normally what the UK and EU team up with when other countries with less democratic views than our own engage in that kind of brinkmanship.”
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said of the EU’s threat to halt supplies: “It remains the case we would expect the EU to continue to stand by its commitments.”
It is the second time the EU has threatened to block jabs heading to the UK. In January it slapped a hard border on Ireland to break the supply chain, only to undo the action a few hours later.
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This time there is anger that the EU’s shambolic vaccinations programme is lagging behind Britain’s successful roll-out, which has now reached 25 million people.
On top of that, 17 EU nations have halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over unsubstantiated claims it causes blood clots.
Prof Jeremy Brown, from the UK’s vaccination committee, said of the stoppage: “People will die as a consequence of these decisions.”
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