EU: Ursula von der Leyen is ‘under pressure’ says Adler
The European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, triggered Article 16 of the Northern Irish Protocol, stopping COVID-19 vaccines from crossing the border. The decision was reversed after angry protests from London, Dublin and Belfast, with Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster calling it an “incredible act of hostility”.
Mr Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit representative and a former Belgian Prime Minister, agreed, setting his thoughts out in a Facebook post, admitting: “A lot of questions remain around the European Commission’s vaccine gaffe and they will need to be answered this week.
“Convincing answers must be given to Parliament this week, otherwise a commission of inquiry becomes unavoidable.
“The EU was right to link arms on vaccine purchases. I’d go further and say that we had no other option, in a single market, but to come together in our efforts.
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The EU Commision are a cohort of unelected bullies who thought they were being clever
Twitter user Tom Gribbin
“But we simply cannot afford mistakes at the top of the Berlaymont that create an image as if European unity would slow down the vaccination of our citizens.”
He tweeted a link to his post on Twitter, prompting multiple users to offer their take on the situation – with many, like him, highly critical of the EU’s behaviour, and specifically of Ms von der Leyen herself.
Tom Gribbin got straight to the point, saying: “The EU Commision are a cohort of unelected bullies who thought they were being clever until the s*** hit the fan.”
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Jeffrey Mansfield added: “Von der Leyen should resign. EuroParl should choose the successor. Where is the accountability?”
Others suggested the commission had merely succeeded in unifying Remainers and Brexiteers.
David Cohen posted: “I voted Remain during the Brexit referendum but after the behaviour of EU on article 16 I was saddened and very disappointed to see the EU behave the way it did this was to me very shocking and made me now look at EU very differently than I did before.”
John Lingwood said: “EU Commission unified opinion across the whole of the island of Ireland.
“This is a genuine EU miracle and entirely beyond belief, even to us Remainers. You are making it hard for us to keep the faith!!”
Jonathan Sanders referred to the escalating row between Brussels and AstraZeneca, the Belgium-based pharmaceuticals company which has developed a vaccine in conjunction with Oxford University which has just received approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
A deal is in place to supply the EU with 300 million doses – but the company earlier this month warned it would not be able to supply all of them as a result of ”complexities of scaling up production”.
The decision in turn prompted the EU’s decision to invoke Article 15 in a bid to prevent vaccine doses from ending up in the UK.
Mr Sanders posted: “Your argument is with AZ, personally I don’t think they as a company have done anything wrong.
“You’ve tried to make it a political issue, thereby uniting the UK and Ireland, big pharma, and other territories. Good luck with fixing it, but it’s of your own making.”
Meanwhile, Veronika Hankison likewise suggested Mrs von der Leyen should ultimately carry the can, while doubting whether satisfactory explanations would be forthcoming.
Ms Hankison said: “I don’t think you will get answers from Mrs von der Leyen.
“She couldn’t supply German army with guns when in charge and talked her way out of it and that was only last year.”
Yesterday, Mrs von der Leyen tweeted: “Step forward on vaccines.
“@AstraZeneca will deliver 9 million additional doses in the first quarter (40 million in total) compared to last week’s offer & will start deliveries one week earlier than scheduled.
“The company will also expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe.”
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