THE UK had said it is “carefully considering next steps” after the EU triggered part of the Brexit agreement in an attempt to stop exports of Covid-19 vaccines destined for vulnerable UK citizens – and this hasn’t changed, despite the EU backtracking on its threat.
The vaccines – legally bought and paid for by the UK government – are being fought over following the EU’s failure to place a vaccine order until over three months after the UK.
The blame for this dangerous dither and delay has largely been placed at the feet of EU President Ursula Von der Leyen, whose indecision – along with predicted delays in production – has now led to a shortage of Coronavirus vaccines in EU states such as Germany and France.
Yet rather than apologise for this blunder and seek moral and effective ways to secure enough vaccines to protect the lives of millions of European citizens, the EU, headed by Von der Leyen, last night invoked part of the Northern Ireland Protocol in an attempt to stop vaccines made in the EU by British-financed teams from getting into the UK – despite the vaccines fought over being produced in a joint British venture.
What is essentially the installation of a trade border, now risks the movement of vaccines, with the EU imposing further restrictions in a desperate yet evil-spirited attempt to steal vaccines intended for British grandparents and those in the highest category of risk to give them to citizens living inside the Bloc.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster described the EU’s immoral move to grab the jabs of potentially millions of UK elderly and vulnerable citizens as an “incredible act of hostility”.
UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has spoken to his counterpart on the EU-UK joint committee, Maros Sefcovic, to “express the UK’s concern over a lack of notification from the EU about its actions in relation to the NI protocol”.
He said the UK would now be considering its next steps.
Under the terms of the new Brexit protocol, goods should be able to move freely between the EU and Northern Ireland as the region remains in the single market for goods and still operates under EU customs rules.
But the EU has abused the powers in the protocol to temporarily place export controls on this movement in respect of vaccines.
A spokesperson for Number 10 said: “The UK Government is urgently seeking an explanation from the European Commission about the statements issued by the EU today and assurances as to its intentions.
“The UK has legally-binding agreements with vaccine suppliers and it would not expect the EU, as a friend and ally, to do anything to disrupt these contracts.
“The UK government has reiterated the importance of preserving the benefits of the Good Friday agreement and the commitments that have been made to the two communities.”
Reacting to the outpour of criticism, the EU appeared to ominously backtrack hours later, stating that the agreement would not change – while failing to elaborate as to whether or not they intend to press on with their plans to control vaccines in the continent.