BRUSSELS has admitted its claim Britain is obstructing Covid-19 vaccine exports was wrong – and even threatened its own blanket ban on jabs leaving the EU.
Eurocrats were required to concede they got it wrong about the UK after furious foreign secretary Dominic Raab asked them to “set the record straight”.
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However in an extraordinary development they then doubled down on their own export restriction and hinted they might make it much more draconian.
EU Council chief Charles Michel stimulated fury in No 10 yesterday by claiming Britain is obstructing deliveries of jabs.
Ursula von der Leyen, in charge of the Commission, has actually likewise made comparable accusations in recent weeks.
Speaking in the Commons today, the PM stated: “I wish to correct the tip that the UK has actually obstructed vaccine exports.
” And let me be clear we have actually not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine, or vaccine parts.
” This pandemic has put all of us on the same side in the fight for international health, we oppose vaccine nationalism in all its types.
” I rely on that all sides will join me in rejecting this recommendation, and calling on all our partners to work together to tackle this pandemic.”
An EU Commission spokesperson today declined to apologise for the claims against Britain, however admitted they were incorrect.
He said: “Various nations have got various steps in location. This does not concern vaccines, as far as we understand, coming from the UK.
” However we understand too that we, the EU, are an extremely really active exporter of vaccines and that this is not always the case of all our partners.”
A source near to Mr Michel likewise admitted: “He didn’t get it quite right.”
Eurocrats have actually grumbled that the UK’s contract with AstraZeneca, which provides us initially dibs on jabs made here, amounts to a “de facto export restriction”.
That’s even though the bloc is sitting on millions of dosages of the shot due to the fact that EU politicians’ false claims about its efficacy have hit use up across the continent.
They also say the bloc has delivered 9 million vaccines to Britain – numerous from Pfizer’s plant in Belgium – however has actually had none back in return.
Pieter Liese, a senior German MEP, admitted that the Council chief’s “phrasing was not accurate” enough when he accused No 10 of an “straight-out ban”.
However he added that “politically Michel was right to point to the issue” that there is an imbalance in shipments.
Europe has actually long been a significant vaccine making center for the entire world and had substantial production capability prior to the pandemic.
In contrast, the UK has actually had to play catch up in developing centers simply to meet domestic demand for Covid shots.
In late January the EU presented new rules approving it the powers to obstruct exports of vaccines from the continent.
Under the system drugs giants need to alert nationwide capitals and Brussels each time they want to send a shipment abroad.
If eurocrats determine the company isn’t honouring existing agreements with Europe, they can action in and obstruct the shipments.
It was used for the very first time last week when Italy and the EU stopped 250,000 AstraZeneca jabs predestined for Australia.
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The mechanism is because of expire at the end of this month, with eurocrats saying it might even be upgraded in future to a blanket restriction on exports.
An EU representative said: “You’ll need to wait and see what the Commission decides.
” The present mechanism expires at the end of this month, and certainly all options are on the table.”