Oh dear, Ursula! EU chief embarrassed by old Tweet criticising export bans on vaccines

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The EU is considering blocking the delivery of Astrazeneca vaccines from a Dutch factory, a move that would strike a critical blow to the heart of the UK’s vaccination programme. It has been suggested that an EU export ban on Astrazeneca jabs could delay Britain’s vaccine drive by up to two months. The EU will meet on Thursday to decide upon the move, but amid the drama surrounding the proposed export ban a tweet from January has emerged revealing how European Commission chief Ms von der Leyen does not support export bans.

On January 26th the head of the European Commission tweeted: “Constructive talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson tonight.

“We agreed on the principle that there should not be restrictions on the export of vaccines by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities.”

One Twitter follower of Ms von der Leyen tweeted: “Perhaps if the EU had ordered earlier it wouldn’t have to threaten and bully?”

However, an apparent supporter of Ms von der Leyen replied: “Thank you for showing restraint and maturity, knowing full well the UK likely wouldn’t do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.

“Level heads prevailed today.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to have spoken on the phone with EU leaders to try and persuade them not to block exports of AstraZeneca vaccine coming to the UK.

Speaking to Reuters an EU official warned Britain not to attempt to get hold of the AstraZeneca vaccines.

The official said the EU would block any such attempt.

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The official said: “The Brits are insisting that the Halix plant in the Netherlands must deliver the drug substance produced there to them.

“That doesn’t work.

“What is produced in Halix has to go to the EU.”

Responding to the comments from the EU a senior UK official told Politico that this would be “a terrible path for them to tread.”

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The UK official said: “Contractually the EU know that we are in the right.

“We have demonstrated that to them.

“If they do this, this is a terrible path for them to tread.

“We have had ten engineers in Halix to get their production up to serve the EU and the UK.

“This is a vaccine that we are making available to the EU and the world through our taxpayer investment, over 21 million in the research, in Oxford University at no profit.”

Referring to the EU’s Ms von der Leyen’s previous tweet, the UK source said: “As the Commission president has previously said, restrictions should not be put in place.

“We expect contractual obligations to be met.”

The AstraZeneca vaccines are currently being produced at a factory in the Netherlands, run by sub-contractor Halix.

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