The virtual EU summit has seen the leaders back “global value chains” rather than support Brussels in using new powers to block Covid jab exports to highly vaccinated countries, writes the Guardian’s correspondent in Brussels, Daniel Boffey.
The commission increased its scope on Wednesday for blocking exports to countries with a better record than the EU in vaccinating its population, or those that restrict exports through law or in their contracts with suppliers.
The EU regulation, in force since January, previously only took into account whether a supplier was fulfilling its contract with the EU.
In an attempt to garner explicit support for the move, the commission president, Ursula Von der Leyen, disclosed to the leaders that 77m doses made by producers in the EU had been shipped to 33 countries since 1 December.
Of those, 21m went to the UK, of which just over 1 million were from AstraZeneca, with the rest supplied by Pfizer. “While remaining open, the EU needs to ensure Europeans get a fair share of vaccines,” she had tweeted.
But in a post-summit statement, the leaders failed to offer their support for the commission’s decision to take new powers allowing it to potentially block exports to countries with high vaccination rates or where governments blocked shipments through law or their contracts with suppliers: “We underline the importance of transparency as well as of the use of export authorisations,” the joint statement said. “We recognise the importance of global value chains and reaffirm that companies must ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines.”
There was also some anger towards the UK from the French president, Emanuel Macron, at the post-summit press conference; “Every day, when I read the press across the Channel, they make a case against us saying that it is the EU that is being selfish. This is false!” he said.
You can read our correspondent in Brussels, Daniel Bofey’s full coverage here: