Eurosceptic Italian MEP mocks EU ‘transparency’ as text from vaccine contract BLOCKED out
Vaccine: Commentator says UK must not ‘give away’ supply
Brussels has gone one step further in its demands for AstraZeneca doses to be sent over from British plants to make up for supply shortages in the bloc’s 27 nations. The bloc and the company have published their 41-page contract today, which the EU insists proves they must be sent vaccines from UK factories. In a section on manufacturing sites, the contract said: “AstraZeneca shall use its Best Reasonable Efforts to manufacture the vaccine at manufacturing sites located within the EU (which for the purpose of this Section 5.4 only shall include the United Kingdom)”.
However, the contract does not confirm whether AstraZeneca should send vaccines produced in Britain to the EU.
Some parts of the contract were also redacted with thick black lines blocking text underneath, despite the bloc welcoming the “transparency” of the document.
A statement on the European Commission website said: “The Commission welcomes the company’s commitment towards more transparency in its participation in the rollout of the EU Vaccines Strategy.
“Transparency and accountability are important to help build the trust of European citizens and to make sure that they can rely on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines purchased at the EU level.”
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Italian MEP Marco Zanni proceeded to mock the EU for its attempt to only show information that painted their version of events.
He wrote on Twitter: “Finally!
“#UE queen of public transparency contract with #AstraZeneca! Details below”
He then posted a picture of a redacted document alongside his tweet to illustrate his point further.
At the time the contract was signed, Britain had left the EU but was still forced to follow most of the EU’s rules due to the transition period which ended on December 31.
The contract also said that AstraZeneca may manufacture at facilities elsewhere to accelerate supply of the vaccine in Europe.
This is provided that it gives “prior notification”.
AstraZeneca and the EU signed a deal for up to 400 million doses of the vaccine.
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Last week, the firm suddenly announced cuts of up to 60 percent in supplies to the bloc.
It said production problems at a Belgian factory were to blame, but this triggered a furious response from the bloc.
EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called for an explanation from AstraZeneca over the delay, as she insisted the supply orders are “binding” and “the contract is crystal clear”.
She said: “AstraZeneca has also explicitly assured us in this contract that no other obligations would prevent the contract from being fulfilled.”
Earlier this week, EU chief Charles Michel said that if it were “deemed politically opportune”, EU action could include using the bloc’s Article 122, which would mean EU states would legally take “measures appropriate to the economic situation” in case of severe supply difficulties.
He said in a leaked letter to the leaders of Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Greece: “This would give the EU and member states the legal means, by adopting appropriate urgent measures, to ensure effective vaccine production and supply for our population.
“I made this suggestion to the (European) Commission President von der Leyen so that we can explore this avenue imminently.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman responded today that the Government would not discuss contractual matters.
But he said the Government expected contracts to be “facilitated” and he was confident of its supply.
He said: “AstraZeneca has clearly stated they will be able to provide two million vaccine doses a week and we’ve said we will get that to people as quickly as possible.”
The UK may is powering ahead on vaccinations, with nearly 7.5 million receiving their first dose so far.
However, the British covid death toll has now surpassed 100,000, which is the highest in Europe.
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