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"Europa är den region som exporterar flest vacciner över hela världen" von der Leyen




Yesterday’s (26 March) European Council meeting was dominated by the issue of vaccine supply. As many countries enter a third lockdown partly due to the new variant, frustration has mounted at Europe’s low level of vaccination compared to the UK and US, which have not exported vaccines. 

Von der Leyen said that European Union can be proud to be the home of vaccine producers who not only deliver to European citizens but export around the globe: “The European Union is and will forever be a fervent supporter of global cooperation. Our track record speaks for itself. [...] The total number of exports from the European Union has risen to 77 million doses that shows that Europe is the region that exports the most vaccines worldwide. And we will continue exporting also through COVAX and to protect humanitarian and health workers around the world. The bottom line is, we invite others to match our openness.” Of the 77 million doses, 20 million doses were exported to the UK.

Von der Leyen updated leaders on the delivery of vaccines in the first and second quarter of the year. AstraZeneca is the only company that has not delivered on its contractual commitments to the EU and - while the details remain opaque - they have also failed to ramp up production in their EU-based production facilities.

Despite being a major exporter, the EU has received much criticism over its recently agreed and updated mechanism that would allow it to ban an export, under certain circumstances, to certain countries. While the EU is reluctant to wield this power, having so far only blocked one consignment from Italy to Australia. 

Following yesterday’s Council, French President Macron said the EU had stopped being naive and that the EU should block all exports as long as commitments made in advanced purchase agreements weren’t respected. He also said that the EU needed to regain the appetite for risk and should invest in the future. The recently re-elected Dutch Prime Minister Marc Rutte, who is generally more in favour of the open economy, also said that it would be “acceptable”, but that he hoped that it would not be used.

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