VDL faces EU revolt: Growing list of EU nations want her jabs war scrapped – Merkel leads

Vaccine row: Hansen grilled by host over 'incorrect' figure

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Some European leaders are increasingly nervous the Commission President will trigger a global jabs war if she starts freely blocking exports. The top eurocrat yesterday announced beefed-up proposals for emergency restrictions on Covid vaccines leaving the EU for nations like the UK who are racing ahead with rolling out jabs. EU sources say Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders have lobbied Brussels to back down from its threat.

Belgium, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands have joined the alliance of EU nations of allowing the Commission to use its draconian vaccine powers.

They are expected to call for formal support for the mechanism to be left out of a joint statement issued after a summit of European leaders later today.

Insiders have made clear that the countries want the text to ensure there is no formal endorsement for Mrs von der Leyen’s plans.

One senior diplomat said: “Having the stick should be enough. We don’t want to use the stick because this will lead to a lose-lose situation.

“Things should not go sour. That’s the worst thing that could occur. Let’s get back to what we’re all looking for, which is vaccinating our people.”

Dutch premier Mark Rutte intervened to ease tensions after talks with Mr Johnson last Friday on a possible compromise.

In a series of follow-up calls to Ms von der Leyen he stressed the risk a vaccine war would pose to supply chains.

According to a leaked draft of the leaders’ statement, support for Mrs von der Leyen’s export ban remains.

“We underline the importance of transparency as well as of the use of export authorisations,” the memo, seen by Express.co.uk, reads.

But some nations were infuriated when top diplomats from the “dovish” capitals refused to include the word “ban” in their summit statement.

Earlier yesterday, EU officials had announced the beefed-up powers to prevent life-saving Covid immunisations from being sent abroad for at least six weeks in response to growing anger over the bloc’s jabs shambles.

Under the plan, they would be able to block shipments to countries with higher vaccination rates and less infections than EU nations.

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Ms Von Der Leyen said: “We have to ensure timely and sufficient vaccine deliveries to EU citizens. Every day counts.”

Her deputy Valdis Dombrovskis warned Britain was a potential target because our factories have not shipped any doses to the Continent.

The Commission vice-president suggested Brussels could retaliate by snatching doses of the Pfizer vaccine heading to our shores.

The threat to seize vaccines came as British diplomats were locked in talks with the EU to avert a full-blown trade war with the bloc.

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Mr Dombrovskis said: “The EU still faces a very serious situation and continues to export significantly to countries whose situation is less serious than ours, or whose vaccination is more advanced than ours.”

Downing Street has even said it is willing to help the EU get its vaccination scheme back on track.

Figures showed the UK’s daily Covid death toll rose by 98 yesterday to an overall total of 126,382.

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