Britain denies ‘completely false’ EU claims as a new vaccine dispute boils over

A U.Okay. nationwide flag flies beside European Union (EU) flags outdoors the Berlaymont constructing in Brussels.

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LONDON — The European Union and the United Kingdom have clashed over the export of coronavirus vaccines, with Britain fiercely denying it has blocked any shipments to different nations.

The newest battle emerged after European Council President Charles Michel accused the U.Okay. on Tuesday of getting an “outright ban” on exports of Covid-19 vaccines.

He stated in a publication that he was “shocked” when listening to accusations of vaccine nationalism in opposition to the EU when different components of the world, such as the U.Okay. and the U.S., “have imposed outright bans” on these vaccines.

This was not the primary time that European officers have made feedback on this topic. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated throughout a press convention in February that the United States and Britain have techniques in place that block vaccine exports.

However, the British authorities was fast to disclaim the accusations on Tuesday. “The U.K. government has not blocked the exports of a single Covid-19 vaccine. Any references to a U.K. export ban or any restrictions on vaccines are completely false,” a authorities spokesperson informed CNBC.

The EU didn’t wait lengthy to answer. Michel, who chairs the conferences between the 27 EU heads of state, stated on Twitter that there are “different ways of imposing bans or restrictions on vaccines/medicines.”

“Glad if the U.K. reaction leads to more transparency and increased exports,” he added.

The U.Okay.’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab could have discussions with EU officers on Wednesday to make clear the scenario.

How they obtained right here

Concerns over vaccine nationalism — the concept that a nation or area is doing its utmost to make sure it has Covid-19 vaccines for its personal inhabitants even when that is to the detriment of different components of the world — emerged in late January.

The European Union, which has confronted varied points over its vaccine rollout, legislated on the time that member states can cease exports of Covid vaccines that had been produced within the bloc. But this could solely be utilized in two cases: If a pharmaceutical agency will not be fulfilling the contracts it has with the EU and if the jabs are going to international locations thought of non-vulnerable. Low and middle-income nations, as properly as neighboring international locations, are exempted from these restrictions.

These restrictions had been used for the primary time final week when Italy stopped a cargo of AstraZeneca jabs from going to Australia.

However, the EU has stated that it has not blocked any exports of vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, provided that these corporations have to this point revered their commitments with the EU.

“I’ve long argued that the post-Brexit U.K.-EU relationship would be difficult, but even I’m surprised how far and fast it has sunk,” Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia Group, stated Wednesday by way of Twitter.

What else is happening?

In parallel, the EU and the U.Okay. are additionally at odds over their post-Brexit preparations.

The U.Okay. introduced it was extending the grace durations on Irish Sea border checks — a dedication made to the EU throughout the negotiations to go away the bloc and which ought to have been accomplished by the top of March. Westminster has now given U.Okay. companies till October to arrange for new customized checks.

The EU has complained this transfer was not mentioned with them upfront and is now getting ready authorized motion in opposition to the U.Okay. authorities.

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