‘We have a problem!’ Merkel breaks silence to back Von der Leyen plot to block vaccines

Germany: Expert looks at Merkel’s response to pandemic

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The German Chancellor admitted the EU “has a problem” with the Anglo-Swedish vaccine producers but supported the Commission President’s decision to ban jabs exports to the UK should it come to that. She said: “I support Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. We have a problem with AstraZeneca. We will decide responsibly.”

On Monday, Britain demanded the European Union allow the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines it has ordered as tensions over a possible export ban on EU-manufactured shots mounted and Brussels pointed an accusing finger at drugmaker AstraZeneca.

After falling far behind post-Brexit Britain and the United States in rolling out vaccines, EU leaders are due to discuss a possible ban on vaccine exports to Britain at a summit on Thursday.

The bloc’s leaders will be expected to clash on the issue as some have already expressed concerns over Ms von der Leyen’s comments.

While France, Germany and Italy broadly support tighter export curbs on those who do not reciprocate, countries including the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland are more cautious about cutting off the UK.

Irish Prime Minister said the move to ban exports to the UK would be “counterproductive” on Monday.

He warned: “If we start that, then we are in trouble.”

The Taoiseach said it is “vital” that supply lines are kept open.

He added that any European Union restrictions on vaccine exports would be a “retrograde step” that could undermine the supply of raw materials for vaccine production.

Mr Martin told Ireland’s RTE radio that representatives of vaccine-maker Moderna had expressed concern to him that EU export restrictions on vaccines might impact its supply of raw materials for vaccine production.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to speak to the German Chancellor and French President Emmanuel Macron, in a bid to get the bloc to steer away from bans.

Britain, which left the EU on December 31, has repeatedly cautioned the EU that breaking contract law could have grave consequences but has not yet specified what those consequences would be.

AstraZeneca has told Brussels that the UK is using a clause in its supply contract that prevents exports of its vaccines until the British market is fully served, EU officials said.

The EU has so far blocked one shipment of vaccines to Australia.

More to follow…

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