Von der Leyen blunder: EU export ban on UK to backfire causing major supply chain issues

Vaccine: Von der Leyen hints at slowing of exports to UK

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The head of the European Commission threatened Brexit Britain on Wednesday with an halt on vaccine exports, claiming the UK has failed to reciprocate the bloc’s generosity. But the European Union relies on ingredients produced in Britain for its own production of jabs, something Wolfgang Munchau, Director of Eurointelligence, claimed could cause von der Leyen’s threat to backfire. 

Mr Wolfgang said: “It appears von der Leyen did not consider supply chain shortages likely to arise for EU vaccine producers in the event of an export ban to UK.

“Looks like another Art 16 episode.”

President von der Leyen said she wanted “reciprocity and proportionality” in exports, pointing out that 10 million doses of vaccine had gone from the EU to the UK.

Although Pfizer jabs were crossing the English Channel to the UK, AstraZeneca vaccines are not heading the other way, she indicated.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the supply of vaccines to the UK from EU production facilities was “fulfilling contractual responsibilities and we fully expect those contracts to be delivered on”.

He said the UK had funded research into the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and had a contract for the first 100 million doses for people in the UK.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused the EU of “brinkmanship” over Ms von der Leyen’s stance.

She added: “We are still waiting for doses to come from the UK, so this is an invitation to show us that there are also doses from the UK coming to the European Union so that we have reciprocity.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Thursday that Mrs von der Leyen’s threat was disappointing.

He said: “I was surprised and disappointed by those comments but the prime minister had spoken earlier in the year to Ursula von der Leyen and she gave a very clear commitment, which was that the EU would not engage in this sort of activity, that contractual responsibilities would be honoured.

“And that’s exactly what we intend to do and I hope and expect the EU to stick to their side of the bargain.”

More to follow…

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