AstraZeneca blasts EU over unuseful legal spat as both sides set to finally agree deal

AstraZeneca vaccine: EU's stance discussed by virologist

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A top boss at the Anglo-Swedish firm suggested both parties are on the brink of reaching an out-of-court settlement. Ruud Dobber, AstraZeneca’s vice-president of biopharmaceuticals, said: “We are working closely with the European Commission in order to reach a settlement. We don’t think it’s useful for both parties to continue this, and I’m very hopeful that in the next few weeks, we will come to an agreement.”

Brussels sued the pharmaceutical giant for failing to deliver the expected number of doses of its coronavirus jab to EU member states.

The spat kicked off in January when the firm announced massive shortages would hamper its delivery schedule to the bloc.

AstraZeneca continued to underdeliver to the EU, only sending around 100 million doses by the second half of 2021.

This was a third of what was promised in the legal contract to supply the shots, it was claimed.

The battle eventually ended up in a Belgian court, with both sides claiming victory after the judge’s verdict.

AstraZeneca was ordered to deliver 50 million doses of its vaccine in a far cry from what the EU was demanding in preliminary hearings.

Brussels celebrated the fact that the judge had ruled that the firm had breached its contract with the EU, even if it wasn’t going to dramatically increase the number of doses sent to the bloc.

But the Anglo-Swedish drugs giant also celebrated victory after the Brussels-based court dismissed the Commission’s complaints against the firm.

Judges ruled that the EU has no exclusive right or priority over any jabs manufactured by the firm.

The EU launched legal action against AstraZeneca because it felt the company was using factories on the Continent to supply the British vaccine drive.

Brussels was demanding that the business ship 120 million vaccine doses to member states by the end of June.

But the judge, from the Court of First Instance in Brussels, ordered delivery of just 80.2 million by the end of September.

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At the time, the company had supplied more than 70 million jabs to EU member states and said it was expecting to smash the court-ordered target.

Jeffrey Pott, General Counsel, said: “We are pleased with the Court’s order.

“AstraZeneca has fully complied with its agreement with the European Commission and we will continue to focus on the urgent task of supplying an effective vaccine, which we are delivering at no profit to help protect people in Europe and around the world from the deadliest pandemic in a generation.”

The court backed the firm’s argument for not hitting the targets apparently set out in its contract with the bloc.

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Its judgement acknowledged the difficulties and manufacturing hiccups experienced by AstraZeneca during the unprecedented situation.

Despite the apparent defeat, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the ruling as good news.

She said: “This decision confirms the position of the Commission: AstraZeneca did not live up to the commitments it made in the contract. It is good to see that an independent judge confirms this.

“This shows that our European vaccination campaign not only delivers for our citizens day by day. It also demonstrates that it was founded on a sound legal basis.”

A longer case-based “on the merits” was ordered to continue in September, but a settlement would put an end to the legal fight.

The EU has largely scrapped its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with Brussels refusing to order any more of the firm’s jab.

Many EU countries are also donating their existing doses abroad.

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