EU: AstraZeneca must honour contracts before exporting vaccine outside Europe

Taoiseach and other EU leaders hear that Covid-19 doses made in member states should remain within the Union — at least until the company can fully meet its commitments
EU: AstraZeneca must honour contracts before exporting vaccine outside Europe

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said world supply chains must remain intact for vaccine production, but that AstraZeneca must honour its contract with EU member states before it can again engage in exporting vaccines. Picture: Stephanie Lecocq/AP

The European Union will ensure coronavirus vaccines produced by AstraZeneca within the Union stay in Europe until the company fulfils its commitments.

Leaders from member states, including Taoiseach Micheál Martin met on Thursday to discuss ongoing issues with Covid-19 vaccine supply, specifically AstraZeneca.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said that the EU had a “problem” with AstraZeneca, which has had to cut back deliveries due to production holdups.

“We have the tools and will make sure everything stays in Europe until the company will come back to its commitments,” Mr Breton added, noting that Europe should be a global leader in producing coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year with 52 factories across the EU involved.

Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, added that the EU 'will make sure everything stays in Europe until the company will come back to its commitments.' Picture: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse?/AP
Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, added that the EU 'will make sure everything stays in Europe until the company will come back to its commitments.' Picture: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse?/AP

Mr Breton also said Europe should have vaccinated enough people by mid-July, to achieve a "global immunity" level.

Meanwhile, the European Commission president warned AstraZeneca that it must “honour” its vaccine contract with the EU before exporting doses elsewhere in the world.

Companies 'must honour contracts with the EU' 

Ursula von der Leyen urged “transparency” from other countries, but did not confirm if the EU would bring in tougher export restrictions on coronavirus jabs, amid a row over supplies with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant.

Ms von der Leyen acknowledged that worldwide supply chains needed to remain “intact” for vaccine production, while some European leaders appeared optimistic that the UK and EU could soon resolve their dispute over supplies.

Companies have to honour their contract to the European Union before they export to other regions in the world. This is of course the case with AstraZeneca.

“I think it is clear that the company [AstraZeneca] has to catch up and honour the contract it has with the EU member states before it can engage again in exporting vaccines.”

EU leaders gave their support to further restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines being exported out of the EU, in order to improve the security of supply for European citizens.

Taoiseach: EU needs leverage

The Taoiseach said this week that he opposed any ban on vaccine exports, while it was noted by other leaders that such a ban could potentially risk reputational damage and the risk of a vaccine trade war.

Mr Martin said on Thursday night that the EU needed leverage to ensure that contracts with pharmaceutical companies were being fulfilled, and that the EU had a safety net to ensure it had sufficient vaccines for its own population.

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