Ursula von der Leyen insists EU members backed grab for 'bloc's fair share' of vaccines

During crisis talks over the bloc’s jabs fiasco, the top Eurocrat struggled to keep her export ban on Covid vaccines alive amid fears the plans could trigger a global trade war. Before the summit she tweeted that it would “ensure that Europeans get their fair share of vaccines”. She also said the EU had exported 77 million doses to 33 countries since December, making the bloc the world’s largest vaccine exporter.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested the bloc should focus on boosting production rather than confiscating life-saving vaccines destined for Britain.

She said: “The problem at the moment with the vaccine supply isn’t so much due to the question how much was ordered, but more about how much can be manufactured on European soil.

“Because we can clearly see: British manufacturing plants manufacture for Great Britain, the US aren’t exporting anything, and therefore we rely on what can be produced in Europe, and we have to expect this virus will preoccupy us for a long time.”

Ms Merkel was leading a group of worried European capitals urging Brussels to back down on its threat to blockade.

The nations, including Belgium, Denmark,Sweden, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands, fear Ms von der Leyen could trash vital supply chains by moving to cut-off shipments to Britain.

But Ms von der Leyen presented a slideshow detailing the number of vaccines exported from mainland Europe to the rest of the world.

A European source told the Daily Express that she deliberately pointed out that 21 million of the 77 million doses had landed in Britain.

Hardliners France, Italy and Poland continued to back an export ban on countries with a better jabs rollout than the EU.

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki urged Brussels to go further by seizing control of factories and ripping up patents for the Oxford jab, as well as blockading deliveries abroad. He said: “It is time to replace strong words with strong actions. We must put more effective solutions on the table.”

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