In his last speech representing the European Commission, last night the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made a final plea to his colleagues to end the bloc’s vaccine war with the UK and establish a more cooperative relationship. Speaking at the Churchill Europe Symposium on Wednesday, Barnier said:
“It is true that the UK has a quicker vaccination rate compared to the EU. But the fight against COVID 19 is more than speed of vaccination, important as that is… We will all find strong and weaker points in how we managed this. But there is no place, in such a serious situation, for polemics and competition. There are so many more reasons to cooperate, in the short and the long term.”
Unfortunately, it seems nobody in Brussels was paying attention. Today the EU has once again threatened to suspend exports of the AstraZeneca jab to the UK unless the company delivers the vaccines manufactured within the EU to its member countries first, with internal market commissioner Thierry Breton claiming “there is nothing to negotiate” and that “the doses must stay in Europe“. Meanwhile Pfizer warns new EU rules about the free movement of goods across borders are damaging its ability to export the vaccine….