Great Britain and EU: The tone in the vaccination dispute is getting sharper

Status: 10.03.2021 3:07 p.m.

In the vaccination dispute, the current EU representative has been summoned to the British Foreign Office. The reason is probably a statement by EU Council President Michel on an alleged ban on British vaccine exports. Prime Minister Johnson denies the allegations.

In the dispute over vaccines with Brussels, Great Britain has summoned the current EU representative in London to protest statements by Council President Charles Michel. In diplomatic dealings, this is considered a sharp form of protest. What came out of it remained open at first.

The occasion was a newsletter from Michels, which said: “The United Kingdom and the United States have imposed a total ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components made on their territory.”

In response to the first sharp criticism from London, Michel later wrote on Twitter that there were “various ways to introduce bans or restrictions on vaccines / drugs”.

References to export ban “completely wrong”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We haven’t even blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine.” Britain condemned “vaccination nationalism in all its forms”.

The British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had previously responded indignantly to Michel’s statements in a letter: “All references to a British export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely wrong.” Since these false accusations have been repeated at different levels of the EU, the matter was “discussed further” with the appointed representative of Brussels, said the Foreign Ministry in London.

Weber: Stop “teaching the EU”

Meanwhile, the leader of the Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, attacked the British foreign minister. Raab should stop teaching the European Union, wrote CSU Vice Weber on Twitter. Instead, he should disclose how much vaccine Britain has exported to Europe and other regions. In the past few months, eight million BioNTech / Pfizer vaccinations went to Great Britain. “How many vaccinations have you sent to Europe?”

EU: London has a “UK-First” policy

In fact, EU representatives have been complaining for weeks that corona vaccines are actually only exported to third countries on a large scale from the EU. “Politically, Michel is right, even if his choice of words was not very precise,” said CDU MEP Peter Liese. Great Britain is pursuing a “UK-First” policy with the “Oxford Vaccine” from AstraZeneca.

The company justifies its large backlog in deliveries to the EU precisely with this: “They say they have a ‘UK-First’ ‘contract,” said Liese. “Only when there is enough for Britain are they ready to export.” In fact, according to AstraZeneca’s managing director Pascal Soriot, London stipulated in his contract that the factories on British soil were initially only allowed to produce for the British market.

Liese further criticized: At least in January, AstraZeneca vaccine from the EU went to Great Britain – not small quantities that were bottled in a plant near Dessau in Germany. “Johnson is acting like Donald Trump. And he shouldn’t get angry if you point it out.”

Problems with deliveries in the EU

The EU is under increasing pressure because of its sluggish vaccination campaign and blames the British-Swedish manufacturer AstraZeneca, among others, for failing to keep promised delivery quantities. AstraZeneca admitted production problems in the EU, but defended itself against the accusation of supplying the UK and other non-EU countries with unreduced quantities.

In the UK, around 35 percent of the population has received a first vaccination, compared to just 9.5 percent in the EU.

EU-UK vaccine dispute, Biontech / Pfizer want to deliver more

Jakob Mayr, ARD Brussels, March 10th, 2021 3:22 p.m.

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