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Brussels embraces vaccine nationalism

Brussels embraces vaccine nationalism
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Just what on earth is happening in Brussels? The latest saga in the European Commission's botched vaccine roll out is president Ursula von der Leyen's threat today to block vaccine shipments to the UK from Europe. Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, the under-fire Eurocrat singled out Britain and suggested she could block imports of Pfizer unless UK-manufactured AstraZeneca jabs are shipped to the Continent.

She said: 'All options are on the table. We are in the crisis of the centre and I’m not ruling out anything for now because we have to make sure Europeans are vaccinated as soon as possible' before accusing AstraZeneca of 'underproducing and underdelivering' in vaccine production and claiming Europe is 'ready to use whatever tool we need' to get their fair share. This is despite the decision of countries like France and Germany to suspend the use of existing stockpiles of the AstraZeneca jab which are currently being destroyed.

Perversely, Britain could even be penalised for being TOO successful, with VdL warning: 'We will reflect on whether exports to countries who have higher vaccination rates than us are still proportionate.' In a subsequent series of tweets, she then added: 'The EU has been exporting vaccines in support of global cooperation. But open roads run in both directions. If needed we’ll reflect on how to adjust our exports based on reciprocity and, in the case of countries with higher vaccination rates than us, proportionality.'

It was of course a mere eight days ago that von der Leyen's fellow Eurocrat Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, accused Britain of 'vaccine nationalism' and claimed the UK had imposed an 'outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components' leaving the country. The false claim prompted Dominic Raab to summon the EU's man in London for a dressing down. What is Raab and his Foreign Office colleagues to make of this charge now being adopted as potential Brussels policy?

As Mr S pointed out just yesterday, the EU's hokey-cokey over the AstraZeneca jab has been something to behold, with the bloc intermittently rubbishing its effectiveness and then using the Irish border as a bargaining chip to procure more supplies, stopping all vaccines on the basis of 37 cases in 20 million jabs, suggesting legal action against AstraZeneca and now threatening a Pfizer blockade.

It's almost enough to make you glad we're out isn't it?

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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Topics in this articlePoliticsbrusselsvaccines