Commission head reassures leaders she will ban vaccines leaving EU if suppliers fail to deliver again
Ursula von der Leyen has reassured EU leaders she will ban coronavirus vaccines from leaving the EU if suppliers such as AstraZeneca fail to deliver again, as she faced questions over her handling of shortages.
The European commission president’s pledge at a virtual summit came as leaders issued a statement promising to “accelerate the provision of vaccines”, with just 8% of the adult population having received a jab compared with 27% in the UK.
“If companies don’t fulfil their contractual obligations, yet do export, the commission may decide to make a move under the export regime,” Von der Leyen told the heads of state and government during the private meeting, according to a senior diplomatic source.
Last month the commission rushed through an emergency authorisation scheme to allow the EU member states to block exports.
Speaking at the post-summit press conference, Von der Leyen said: “We want to see who is exporting where and I was very clear from the very start that is not directed against any kind of country but is focused on the question: does the company that is exporting a vaccine produced in Europe honour the contract in the European Union?
“If we look at the pattern the vast majority of exports is done by BioNTech/Pfizer of 95% approximately. The rest by Moderna. Both of them are honouring their contract so that is fine with us. We are in discussions with AstraZeneca where there is room for improvement where fulfilment of the contract is concerned, so here we have a very close eye on what is going on.”