VDL ordered to use draconian powers to seize jabs and factories ahead of summit showdown

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawicki has called on Brussels to use every legal mechanism possible to boost manufacturing of Covid jabs across the Continent. In a warning ahead of a virtual summit of European leaders, he said words are not enough to fix the bloc’s shambolic vaccine scheme. Mr Morawicki urged European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to “replace strong words with strong actions”.

Poland is a member of a hardline bloc of member states who want Brussels to trigger its most draconian powers to get the sluggish vaccine rollout back on track.

This includes seizing vaccine factories and patents for immunisations and preventing pharmaceutical firms from exporting abroad.

Writing for the Politico website, Mr Morawicki said: “This growing determination on behalf of the European Commission to enforce contracts with pharmaceutical companies is a good sign, especially as much of the Continent faces the likelihood of a third coronavirus wave. 

“But it is not enough. It is time to replace strong words with strong actions. We must put more effective solutions on the table. 

“The EU should focus on two main courses of action. First, it should make the authorisation to export vaccines produced in EU countries dependent on the compliance of vaccine producers to meet their commitments. Second, it should make use of the compulsory license procedure. This allows for governments to grant companies the right to produce a patented product without the consent of the patent owner.”

He added: “The law provides two important conditions for the use of this measure: It has to be required by the public interest (in this case, the protection of life and public health) and it has to be otherwise impossible to use the patented product or invention. Both of these conditions are met today. 

“Vaccines are our most powerful weapons in defeating the coronavirus pandemic. We must use all available legal tools to ensure that they are deployed as effectively as possible. 

“Only if we act together now and in solidarity can we successfully beat back the virus, show that we are united and provide vaccines to all Europeans.”

But some European leaders are increasingly nervous the Commission President will trigger a global jabs war if she starts freely blocking exports.

The top eurocrat yesterday announced beefed-up proposals for emergency restrictions on Covid vaccines leaving the EU for nations like the UK who are racing ahead with rolling out jabs.

Mrs von der Leyen has previously said she was prepared to trigger emergency Article 122 powers that would give her free reign over the bloc’s vaccine strategy – including raids on production plants and export seizures 

EU sources say Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders have lobbied Brussels to back down from its threat.

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Belgium, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands have joined the alliance of EU nations of allowing the Commission to use its draconian vaccine powers.

They are expected to call for formal support for the mechanism to be left out of a joint statement issued after a summit of European leaders later today.

Under the plan, they would be able to block shipments to countries with higher vaccination rates and less infections than EU nations.

Mrs Von Der Leyen said: “We have to ensure timely and sufficient vaccine deliveries to EU citizens.

Every day counts.” Her deputy Valdis Dombrovskis warned Britain was a potential target because our factories have not shipped any doses to the Continent.

The Commission vice-president suggested Brussels could retaliate by snatching doses of the Pfizer vaccine heading to our shores.

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The threat to seize vaccines came as British diplomats were locked in talks with the EU to avert a full-blown trade war with the bloc.

Mr Dombrovskis said: “The EU still faces a very serious situation and continues to export significantly to countries whose situation is less serious than ours, or whose vaccination is more advanced than ours.”

Downing Street has even said it is willing to help the EU get its vaccination scheme back on track.

Figures showed the UK’s daily Covid death toll rose by 98 yesterday to an overall total of 126,382.

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