Prime minister Mark Rutte has said the EU and Britain will sort out their differences over coronavirus vaccines by Saturday, following Thursday’s online meeting of EU leaders, EUObserver reported.
EU leaders did give ‘muted backing’ to the Commission’s plans to tighten export rules for vaccines, after claims that AstraZeneca in particular is not keeping to the terms of its delivery agreements with Europe.
A drug making company in Leiden is at the centre of that dispute.
Rutte told broadcaster NOS that he is not in favour of measures to limit exports by choice, and that ‘it is important to keep the gun unloaded’. Nevertheless, EU leaders voted unanimously for the plan.
The EU signed framework agreements with the pharmaceutical companies but it is the member states that contract the firms for the specific amount of jabs they want, EUObserver said.
EU leaders were also unhappy with calls by Austria for a bigger share of the EU jabs. ‘At this moment it is difficult to conclude that Austria has an issue now,’ Rutte said after the meeting.
He also said he is ‘very much open’ to finding ways to help Croatia, Bulgaria, and Latvia, whose own vaccination programmes have been hit hard by the lack of AstraZeneca supplies.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told the meeting that the EU is on track to vaccinate 70% of its adult population by the summer. Some 88 million vaccine doses have been delivered to the EU so far and 62 million have been administered, she said.
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