The EU is “quite right” to consider preventing vaccines from being exported outside the bloc, according to a Fine Gael TD.
The British Government has accused the EU of “brinksmanship” after Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc would consider tighter restrictions on companies manufacturing vaccine in the EU and then exporting it elsewhere.
She noted that 41 million doses have been exported from the EU since February 1st – with the largest amount sent to the UK.
Some have also been sent to the US, which has an export ban in place.
President von der Leyen said the EU would consider a range of tough options under Article 122 of the EU Treaty – up to and including an export ban, the seizure of facilities that manufacture vaccine and the suspension of patent rights relating to vaccines.
Britain's foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said he expects arrangements for "lawfully contracted supply" to be respected.
However, Fine Gael spokesperson on European Affairs Neale Richmond told Newstalk that President von der Leyen was making the right call.
“It is not brinksmanship; it is simply the European Commission dealing with a pharmaceutical company in a very direct manner,” he said.
“A pharmaceutical company that seems to have met its contractual obligations to the UK and the US but not to the EU.
“A pharmaceutical company that has exported millions of doses from the EU while none have been exported from other countries so I think the president of the commission is quite right to be quite firm.”
HE said the EU was “stating clear facts” regarding the amount of vaccine being exported form the EU to countries that are not manufacturing them for export to Europe.
“It is certainly a concern of the president of the commission and indeed all European member states that AstraZeneca simply has not met the obligations of its contractual responsibilities to all European countries including Ireland,” He said.
Ireland is one of around a dozen countries to have paused the use of AstraZeneca following reports a small number of patients suffering blood clots after being vaccinated.
A decision on the vaccine will be announced by the European Medicines Agency this afternoon.