There is not only a vaccine war between the EU and the AstraZeneca laboratory due to the announced delay in deliveries. Rather, that war is causing collateral damage with the United Kingdom, a country that has just left the EU after four years of tough negotiations.
This Friday the European Commission has authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine, but has also adopted measures to require that exports of vaccines from Community territory be subject to an authorization by the Member States. Adopted by the urgent procedure, Brussels provides that, until the end of March 2021, exports of vaccines against COVID-19 outside the EU, such as the United Kingdom, are subject to export authorizations. This regime only applies to exports from companies with which the European Union has entered into advance purchase agreements, such as AstraZeneca.RELATED
And among these measures, the EU has decided that these controls also apply in Northern Ireland. As according to the Brexit agreement, all products should be exported from the EU to Northern Ireland without controls and in response to Brussels’ fear that that border could be used to circumvent export controls, the European Commission had decided to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland’s Brexit Protocol, allowing parts of the deal to be unilaterally annulled.
A decision that has generated so much unease in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland that the EU has ended up backing down this Friday night to remove the mention of the Irish border mechanism from Article 16 of the text of the export control regulation.
Brussels has published the following statement shortly before midnight on Friday: “To address the current lack of transparency of exports of vaccines outside the EU, the Commission is adopting a measure that requires that such exports be subject to an authorization from Member States. In the process of finalizing this measure, the Commission will ensure that the Irish Protocol with Northern Ireland is not affected. The European Commission is not activating the safeguard clause. In case of abuse transits of vaccines and active substances to third countries to circumvent the effects of the authorization system, the EU will consider using all the instruments at its disposal. In the process of finalizing the document, the Commission will also fine-tune the decision-making process in the framework of the implementing regulation. The final version of the implementing regulation will be published after its adoption tomorrow. “
The Irish Prime Minister greeted the news.
As reported by the BBC, The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland – the territory of the United Kingdom – Arlene Foster, dismissed the measure as “an incredible act of hostility” by the EU. The Community Executive, for its part, has stated: “The measure is justified as a form of safeguard in accordance with Article 16 of said Protocol to avoid serious difficulties due to the lack of supplies that threaten to disrupt the orderly implementation of the campaigns of vaccination in the Member States “.
“The UK Government wants an urgent explanation from the European Commission,” British Government sources said: “The UK has legally binding agreements with vaccine suppliers and does not expect the EU, as a friend and ally, to do anything to discontinue performance of these contracts. The UK government has reiterated the importance of preserving the Good Friday agreement, “which establishes an invisible border between Irish women.
In this context, Johnson has spoken with the Irish Prime Minister, Micheál Martin, in which he “expressed his concerns about the use by the EU of Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol and what these actions may mean for the two Communities of Northern Ireland “. According to Downing Street sources, Johnson “said the EU should urgently clarify its intentions and what steps it plans to take to ensure that its own commitments with regard to Northern Ireland are fully implemented.”
Johnson also spoke with Von der Leyen on Friday night to express “his great concern about the potential impact that the measures that the EU has taken today could have. [por este viernes] in vaccine exports “.
The president of the European Commission, has responded: “Constructive talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson tonight. We agreed on the principle that there should be no restrictions on the export of vaccines by companies where they are fulfilling their contracts. “.
That is, Von der Leyen now says that he does not want restrictions on exports of vaccines to the UK.
“The objective is to immediately provide total transparency, which until now has been lacking and is what Europeans expect, and if necessary it will give us a tool to ensure the delivery of vaccines,” he said this Friday at a press conference by the vice president. Economic Commissioner of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis.
The measure, which will come into force this Saturday, comes after a week of tension with the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca on account of the delays in the delivery of the doses contracted by the EU, which are added to the days registered with Pfizer-BioNTech.
Brussels, which fears that AstraZeneca has given the United Kingdom doses corresponding to 27, wants to control how many vaccines are produced in its territory and to which countries they are destined, after having financed their development with 2.3 billion.