EU vaccine plan slammed by Czech MEP Kateřina Konečná
The move saw wide condemnation from leaders including Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster, Irish premier Micheal Martin and UK PM Boris Johnson. Following the approach, we are today asking Express.co.uk readers whether EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen should resign over the announcement?
The bloc initially demanded doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in British plants in order to solve its supply shortage issues, as member states were forced to pause or delay their rollouts.
The EU’s “vaccine export transparency mechanism” will be used until the end of March to control vaccine shipments to nations outside the bloc.
It seeks to ensure that any exporting company based in the EU first submits its plans to national authorities.
European Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis told an EU press conference: “Today the Commission has adopted an implementing regulation making the export of certain products subject to an export authorisation.
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“This regulation concerns the transparency and export of COVID-19 vaccines.”
The bloc then triggered the Northern Ireland protocol which is part of the Withdrawal Agreement early on Friday evening.
It is designed to allow the free movement of goods from the EU into Northern Ireland, and prevent the need for a hard border on the island of Ireland.
But triggering Article 16 would have temporarily placed export controls on the movement of vaccines, a move undertaken by the EU to prevent Northern Ireland being used as a back door to move coronavirus vaccines from the bloc into the UK.
The European Commission’s new regulation had stated: “This is justified as a safeguard measure pursuant to Article 16 of that protocol in order to avert serious societal difficulties due to a lack of supply threatening to disturb the orderly implementation of the vaccination campaigns in the member states.”
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster described Brussels’ initial move as an “incredible act of hostility” that places a “hard border” between the region and the Republic of Ireland.
A Downing Street statement said: “The UK has legally binding agreements with vaccine suppliers and it would not expect the EU, as a friend and ally, to do anything to disrupt the fulfilment of these contracts.”
Irish premier Micheal Martin and the Prime Minister both held calls with Ms von der Leyen over the matter.
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This forced the commission issued a statement to back down on Article 16 and say it would be “fine-tuning the decision-making process”.
The statement issued last night said: “In the process of finalisation of this measure, the Commission will ensure that the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol is unaffected.
“The Commission is not triggering the safeguard clause.”
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