Von Der Leyen ‘between rock and hard place’ as EU unlikely to recover from PR nightmare

EU ‘between a rock and a hard place’ on rollout says Stubb

The European Union urged pharmaceutical companies on Tuesday to stand by their word in supplying coronavirus vaccines amid a series of delivery cuts and delays, as hopes for a quick fix to COVID-19 slowly crumble into recrimination. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines. But Finland’s ex-Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said the EU will not receive any credit at the time of the rollout.

Speaking to Euronews, Mr Stubb said: “I think that the only way that the EU can sort of come clear out of this one is by giving the figures and getting the rollout going.

“The problem of course for the Commission is going to be once the rollout happens, it is not going to get the credit.

“The member states and the political leaders in the member states are going to take the credit.

“The way in which these things usually work, you say it’s the fault of Brussels when things go bad.

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“Then everything that goes good and well is thanks to me.

“In that sense, I think the Commission is between the rock and a hard place.

“But I do think it’s doing a very good job on this and I think the rollout will eventually happen.”

EU member states could seek to take AstraZeneca to court for breach of supply contracts if it did not honour its delivery schedule, according to Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevics.

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“The possibility should be evaluated, and it should be coordinated among the EU countries,” the minister told Reuters, via his spokesman.

Each EU member state has a separate supply contract with the company.

Germany’s health minister supported EU proposals to introduce restrictions on COVID-19 vaccine exports, saying Europe should have its “fair share”.

“I can understand that there are production problems but then it must affect everyone in the same way,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told ZDF television.


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AstraZeneca said initial deliveries to the EU will fall short of the targeted volumes because of a production glitch.

“Initial volumes will be lower than originally anticipated due to reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain,” a company spokesman said in a written statement on Friday, declining to provide details.

AstraZeneca has offered to provide the European Union with supplies in February but has not given clarity on the possible rerouting of doses from Britain, EU officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

Any move to limit vaccine exports to Britain, newly departed from the European Union, would jeopardise the target of vaccinating the most vulnerable by mid-February, England’s National Health Service chief said on Tuesday.

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