European Union leaders confirm vaccine export control

European Union leaders confirm vaccine export control”

European Union leaders are struggling to speed up vaccinations, but are trailing countries like Britain and the United States and facing supply delays.

EU countries are also squabbling amongst themselves over how to share vaccines, and not all are happy with a beefed-up European Commission move that could block some vaccine shipments to countries like Britain which produce jabs but don't export them. "We are in a race against time between the third wave and the vaccine rollout across Europe", French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters.

"We weren't quick enough, strong enough on this", he told Greece's ERT television. "We were wrong to lack ambition".

Macron himself has been criticised at home for a faltering rollout, slowed by bureaucracy and public mistrust of vaccines.

The EU is coping with a third wave of Covid-19. The process of manufacturing vaccines is very complex and time consuming. You can give that to the Americans.

US President Biden is the star attraction at this evening's summit. Both sides want to fix transatlantic ties that frayed under former president Donald Trump.

Separately, a group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference this week has found the U.S. squandered both money and lives in its coronavirus pandemic response, and could have avoided almost 400 000 deaths with a more effective health strategy as well as trimmed federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while still supporting those who needed it.

European Commission's stance of toughening rules on vaccine exports has not been received well in the United Kingdom but a joint statement by Britain and the EU said that both sides are looking to find a "win-win" solution.

During the virtual summit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented new data showing that EU-based vaccine manufacturers had shipped some 77 million doses internationally since December 1, in addition to delivering 88 million doses within the EU's 27 countries.

"The problem at the moment with the vaccine supply isn't so much due to the question how much was ordered, but more about how much can be manufactured on European soil", she said.

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Afterwards, vaccine supplier AstraZeneca was warned it must deliver the number of doses contracted to the European Union before it can export doses out of the bloc, according to The Irish Times.

In a statement, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it is, "more important than ever that we use every tool available to us to increase the production, supply and distribution of vaccines".

She spoke after European Union leaders held a summit to discuss vaccine supplies.

The EU is increasingly concerned that vaccine supplies are leaving the bloc to go to other countries, in particular the UK.

European Union leaders will also be discussing diplomatic and economic relations with its strategic neighbour Turkey.

Relations between Paris and Ankara are particularly strained.

Merkel, speaking to reporters after the virtual summit, gently chided countries that had not made use of their full allotment - a clear reference to Austria.

One bright spot for the leaders came toward the end of their summit, when United States counterpart President Joe Biden dialled in to give impetus to a new era in trans-Atlantic relations.

Fearing leaks from a less than secure videoconference, the leaders do not expect to be able to make decisions on many sensitive topics, and talks initially planned for two days will instead end late Thursday.

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