The European Union is taking legal action against AstraZeneca over issues related to the company's COVID-19 vaccine deliveries.
The legal action is being taken against the drug-maker because some terms of the contract between the two parties "have not been respected".
European Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker said that Brussels started its proceedings last Friday "on the basis of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement".
"Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure the timely delivery of doses," he said.
"What matters to us in this case is that we want to make sure that there's a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to, and which have been promised on the basis of the contract."
All 27 EU member states are said to be "fully aligned in their support of this procedure".
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides added that the priority is to ensure vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of Europeans.
Writing on Twitter, she said: “Our priority is to ensure Covid-19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of [the European Union].”
“Every vaccines dose counts. Every vaccine dose saves lives."
Our priority is to ensure #COVID19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of 🇪🇺.
This is why @EU_Commission has decided jointly with all Member States to bring legal proceedings against #AstraZeneca.
Every vaccine dose counts. Every vaccine dose saves lives.
— Stella Kyriakides (@SKyriakidesEU) April 26, 2021
AstraZeneca has delivered just one-third of the vaccine it promised to the EU in the first quarter of this year.
Under its contract the company promised to deliver 180 million doses in the second quarter – around 1.8 million of which would have gone to Ireland.
The pharmaceutical giant now expects to deliver around 100 million doses in the first six months of the year.
In the Dáil on Thursday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said Ireland had joined the EU in suing AstraZeneca over its “complete failure” to meet its coronavirus vaccine delivery targets.
He added that the legal case was initiated by the European Commission and Ireland was on-board as one of the parties to it.
“With regard to AstraZeneca, a legal case has been initiated by the Commission and earlier this week, I have joined Ireland as one of the parties to that legal case – specifically around AstraZeneca's complete failure to meet its delivery contractual agreements for April, May and June,” he said.
However, later that day, the European Commission denied the claim by the Minister for Health that it has started a legal case against AstraZeneca.
A Commission spokesman said: “A decision to launch legal actions against the company has not been taken at this point in time.”
Additionally, Mr De Keersmaecker told a briefing on Thursday that "no decision has yet been taken with regard to the legal actions".