Vaccine row: EU to escalate threats on export ban despite Boris Johnson’s compromise pleas

Vaccine passports 'are inevitable for UK' says expert

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The European Commission is set to publish new proposals today that will tighten export guidelines, preventing what it has seen as a one-direction flow of vaccines. The new proposals will bolster the existing legislature, put in place to monitor exports from the EU and if necessary ban exports, by adding a clause to prevent exports “either by law or through contractual or other arrangements concluded with vaccine manufacturers.”

Clement Beaune, French Europe minister, confirmed that the proposals would be discussed at a European summit.

He said: “We want to avoid AstraZeneca doses produced in Europe going to Britain when we are not receiving anything.”

When asked whether there would be any form or retaliation, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “We in this country don’t believe in blockades of any kind of vaccines or vaccine material.

“It’s not something this country would dream of engaging in and I’m encouraged by some of the things I’ve heard in the continent in the same sense.”

On Monday, Mr Johnson urged the EU to back down with a suggestion that a compromise was feasible, adding that “we are all fighting the same pandemic.”

European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, demanded “reciprocity” from the UK in regard to vaccine exports after the EU sent 10 million doses of the jab to British shores but received none in return.

The new proposals have been backed by Germany’s Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron despite Mr Johnson’s efforts to prevent a vaccine war from emerging.

The current legislation has already been used to prevent an export of AstraZeneca vaccines bound for Australia from leaving Italy but there are concerns that the new proposals will broaden the scope of export bans to cover other vaccines such as the Pfizer jab.

The EU also accused AstraZeneca of prioritising the UK over its other contractual obligations after delivering less than a quarter of what it promised.

Britain is by far the largest benefactor of EU vaccine exports and therefore stands to lose the most when the new proposals are introduced.

Last week Ms von der Leyen said: “We are in the crisis of the century. And I’m not ruling out anything for now, because we have to make sure that Europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Human lives, civil liberties and also the prosperity of our economy are dependent on that, on the speed of vaccination, on moving forward.”

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Currently over half of all adults in the UK have received the first dose of the vaccine whereas only around 12 percent have had the same treatment in Europe.

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