European Union leaders confirm vaccine export control

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen looks on as she arrives at the European Parliament to explain the European Union's vaccine strategy to the European Parliament in Brussels on 10 February 2021

Von Der Leyen Threatens to Block Astra Zeneca Exports to UK Until Firm Makes Good on Deliveries to EU AFP 2021 JOHANNA GERON

"Let's stop being naïve", Macron told reporters after the virtual summit.

EU officials remain frustrated by the behaviour of AstraZeneca pharmaceutical, which is still struggling to deliver the expected doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Europe, and are set to use all the tools at their disposal to secure further doses for Europeans.

"This is our absolute priority and we are completely dedicated to that task along with the European Commission".

French leader Macron also promises vaccines to all by the end of summer while relying on the EU President Von der Leyen's push to AstraZeneca.

"The company. has to honour the contract it has with member states", European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.

"When member states have a lot less vaccines available to them than others, then I think this is a big issue for Europe", Kurz said.

The group, including the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland, asked the Commission to refrain from blocking shipments without consulting national authorities and vaccine manufacturers.

"We have to, and want to, explain to our European citizens that they get their fair share", she said.

After AstraZeneca announced the drastic supply cut, the European Union put in place an export control system that requires pharma manufacturers to take permission from the bloc before exporting, and gives Brussels powers to block shipments if the companies are deemed to have broken contractual obligations.

Some leaders stressed that an embargo should be a last resort if negotiations for a better way of sharing vaccine production come up short, but von der Leyen adopted an uncompromising tone. "Since the start of the mechanism on 1 February, more than 380 export requests and only one has been stopped", von der Leyen said.

Stressing on worldwide cooperation, Dr Swaminathan said to CNN's Christiane Amanpour that the daily global death toll of 7,000-10,000 is "unnecessary and preventable", and that vaccines should be "equitably and fairly distributed around the world".

"There are some concerns serious concerns with regard to this one company", said Charles Michel, calling for AstraZeneca to ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines.

Her comments came a day after the European Union issued a joint statement with the United Kingdom in which both sides pledged to work together after weeks of tensions over the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.

And Johnson is also concerned that a ban that extends beyond UK-based AstraZeneca's disputed supply could also block vaccines produced in Belgium for BioNTech/Pfizer. Europe should be the world leader in producing coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year with 52 factories taking part in the process across the continent, Breton said.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz criticised the allocation of shots in the European Union, saying that some countries were receiving more than their fair share at the cost of others.

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