The EU “means business”, Ursula von der Leyen has said, as the bloc doubled down on plans for tighter monitoring of vaccine exports to countries outside of the union, such as the UK.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum, the president of the European commission said the EU had invested billions and “companies must now deliver” to the 27 member states.
The EU’s executive branch will bring forward details of a new transparency register by the end of the week to oblige pharmaceutical companies to notify the commission of all vaccine exports.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, had described the plan variously as an “export restriction” and a permit system to ensure the EU retained its fair share of vaccines produced on its territory.
In her speech on Tuesday, Von der Leyen said the EU needed to see a return on its advance orders. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be authorised by the European Medicines Agency on Friday.
Von der Leyen said: “The EU and others helped with money to build research capacities and production facilities. Europe invested billions to help develop the world‘s first Covid-19 vaccines. To create a truly global common good. And now, the companies must deliver. They must honour their obligations. This is why we will set up a vaccine export transparency mechanism. Europe is determined to contribute. But it also means business.”
AstraZeneca had informed the commission last Friday that there would be a 60% shortfall in its vaccine deliveries this quarter as a result of production problems at a site in Belgium. EU officials have informed the company that it must honour its contractual obligations to supply about 80m doses by the end of March.
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