Politics

Juncker strikes back! Former EU boss savages VDL for botched vaccine scheme – ‘Too slow!’

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The Luxembourger, who was the European Commission’s president between 2014-2019, hit out at his successor Ursula von der Leyen’s handling of the bloc’s rollout of Covid jabs. Mr Juncker also claimed the current crop of chief eurocrats had been wrong to float an export ban preventing vaccine makers from sending jabs abroad. In a scathing assessment of the EU’s vaccine scheme, he claimed the Commission was too slow to negotiate its contracts with drug companies.

“I believe it all went too slow,” he said.

“It hasn’t all been done with maximum transparency, even though that would be a difficult task.”

Last week the Commission introduced plans to screen all exports of vaccines made on the Continent.

Manufacturers are now required to seek authorisation before shipping doses abroad.

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Mr Juncker suggested the new regulation made the bloc seem selfish in the midst of a global pandemic.

“We are back in a debate where again the suggestion is being made that nothing should be exported from the European Union to other non-EU countries,” he said.

“I am very much opposed to the European Union now giving the impression that we are taking care of ourselves and that the suffering of other people, especially in poorer countries and on poorer continents, does not affect us.”

This isn’t the first time Mrs von der Leyen has come under fire for the EU’s botched vaccine scheme.

Senior members of the European Parliament yesterday called for her resignation.

And it was said that officials were exploring possible avenues for forcing a vote on her future.

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But in an interview with a group of European newspapers, Mrs von der Leyen was far from apologetic.

She even claimed the EU’s deliberately slow vaccine strategy was going swimmingly and that the UK’s attempt to roll out jabs at pace was a “gigantic” risk.

Mrs von der Leyen said: “Some countries started to vaccinate a little before Europe, it is true.

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“But they resorted to emergency, 24-hour marketing authorisation procedures.

“The commission and the member states agreed not to compromise with the safety and efficacy requirements linked to the authorisation of a vaccine. Time had to be taken to analyse the data, which, even minimised, takes three to four weeks.

“So, yes, Europe left it later, but it was the right decision. I remind you that a vaccine is the injection of an active biological substance into a healthy body. We are talking about mass vaccination here, it is a gigantic responsibility.”

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