Robert Jenrick demands EU 'stick to its side of bargain' on vaccines
‘FORTY PER CENT’ of the EU’s Covid vaccines are still sitting in storage as furious ministers demand Brussels ‘stick to its side of the bargain’ after von der Leyen’s threat to block exports
- Robert Jenrick said he was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by EU jab export threat
- He suggested Ursula von der Leyen breaking her word after ‘commitment’ to PM
- Mr Jenrick said he ‘hopes and expects’ EU to ‘stick to their side of the bargain’
- Ms von der Leyen said EU could block exports of vaccines amid stalling roll-out
- Ex-PM of Finland Alexander Stubb today claimed 40 per cent of jabs in storage
- Claimed Ms von der Leyen trying to motivate EU states to ‘get their act together’
Robert Jenrick today demanded the EU ‘stick to their side of the bargain’ on vaccine supply as he blasted Ursula von der Leyen for threatening to impose an export ban on jabs.
The Housing Secretary said he was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by Ms von der Leyen’s stance as he suggested she was breaking her word after giving a ‘very clear commitment’ on the issue to Boris Johnson earlier this year.
Mr Jenrick said he ‘hopes and expects’ the EU to allow vaccine manufacturers within the bloc to deliver on the contracts they have signed with the UK amid rising tensions.
His intervention came as Alexander Stubb, the former prime minister of Finland, claimed that 40 per cent of the vaccines bought by the EU are ‘laying around in various storage in European member states’.
He argued that Ms von der Leyen’s sabre-rattling was actually an attempt to motivate member states to ‘get their act together’ and accelerate the rollout of jabs.
Mr Stubb said the export ban threat was simply reflecting the ‘political reality’ as he claimed the EU is ‘by far the biggest producer of the vaccines’, with companies shipping millions of doses to countries all around the world.
Ministers yesterday condemned Brussels’ ‘brinkmanship’ after Ms von der Leyen complained the bloc is sending millions of doses to other countries while receiving few in return as she warned of action to ensure ‘reciprocity’.
Speaking as the EU’s vaccine rollout descended deeper into chaos, Ms von der Leyen called on Britain to begin sending AstraZeneca jabs overseas.
Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, sparked anger yesterday after threatening to ban the export of coronavirus vaccines
Alexander Stubb, the former prime minister of Finland, today claimed 40 per cent of teh vaccines bought by the EU are in storage
Europe’s already-slow jab roll-out has been hit by further delays after the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine was temporarily suspended. The UK has relied heavily on AstraZeneca jabs to power ahead with its roll-out, which is one of the world’s fastest
She lashed out at the drug-maker for ‘under-producing and under-delivering’ doses, saying it is to blame for the slow place of Europe’s roll-out.
That is despite the fact that 19 countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, have halted the use of AstraZeneca jabs over unfounded fears they cause blood clots, meaning around 7.5million doses are currently sitting unused.
Ms von der Leyen said ‘all options are on the table’ because ‘we are in the crisis of the century’ in comments which raise the possibility that stocks of Pfizer vaccine manufactured in Belgium could be prevented from going to Britain.
Mr Jenrick told Sky News this morning that the comments made by the President of the European Commission were not ‘at all helpful’.
He said: ‘I was surprised and disappointed by those comments but the Prime Minister had spoken earlier in the year to Ursula von der Leyen and she gave a very clear commitment which was that the EU would not engage in this sort of activity, that contractual responsibilities would be honoured and that is exactly what we intend to do and I hope and expect the EU to stick to their side of the bargain as well.
‘It isn’t at all helpful if we enter into this sort of conversation. That is not the way the UK is behaving or wants to behave in the future.
‘We all need to work together to get through this. Supplies of vaccines rely on very complex international manufacturing supply chains as we have just said and so everybody needs to have free trade of vaccines and not get into this sort of difficulty.’
Meanwhile, Mr Stubb, who stood against Ms von der Leyen in the race to be European Commission president, claimed her comments were actually designed to motivate member states to increase the speed of the vaccine rollout.
Asked if he believed the vaccine export threat to be reasonable, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think it is actually political reality.
‘You have to remember that the European Union is by far the biggest producer of the vaccines and if you just look at the statistics in the past four or five weeks it has actually exported over 40million doses around including eight million to the UK.
‘So basically what Ursula von der Leyen is telling, is to the member states to get their act together and get the roll-out going because the procurement is there.’
Told that the EU is actually storing vaccine doses because of the decision by some member states to halt the use of the AstraZeneca jab, Mr Stubb said: ‘I think you are absolutely right on that.
‘So basically the situation from as far as I can gather from the statistics is that roughly 40 per cent of the vaccines procured are now laying around in various storage in European member states.
‘So I think it is essentially a problem of governance and efficiency and I think the United Kingdom has been very good at rolling out the vaccine, as has for instance the United States.
European leaders have turned on one-another in the latest episode of the bloc’s shambolic jabs saga, amid fury at the decision to block the use of AstraZeneca vaccines as a third wave of infections looms
‘But we are in this vicious circle of a blame game, you know, so what happens is the member states blame Brussels, Brussels blames the private companies and the United Kingdom blames Brussels as well and I don’t think this is very conducive to finding solutions.’
Speaking to reporters in Brussels yesterday, Ms Von der Leyen had said: ‘AstraZeneca has unfortunately under-produced and under-delivered, and this painfully, of course, reduced the speed of the vaccination campaign.
‘Where the UK is concerned, we have observed that in the last six weeks 10 million doses by now have been exported to the UK.’
She added: ‘Indeed the UK is producing AstraZeneca. In our contract with AstraZeneca there are even two sites in the UK that are put in the contract for potential deliveries for the European Union.
‘We are still waiting for doses to come from the UK, so this is an invitation to show us that there are also doses from the UK coming to the European Union so that we have reciprocity.’
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