Vaccines: European Commission wants stricter export controls | Free press


Brussels (dpa) – Because the corona vaccine is so scarce, exports from the European Union must be more strictly controlled and, if necessary, stopped more often. The German news agency learned this before the decision of the European Commission was scheduled for Wednesday.

However, no blanket export bans are planned, it said from EU circles. Chancellor Angela Merkel had also opposed this.

Last week, Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, threatened stricter export regulations and possible bans. The background to this is that, according to EU data, more than 41 million doses of vaccine have been exported from the EU to 33 countries since February 1, although deliveries in Europe are lacking and vaccination is slow.

The focus is mainly on the manufacturer Astrazeneca due to delivery delays, but also on Great Britain, which imported ten million vaccine doses from the EU, but did not respond according to EU information. The British media has already reported an impending vaccination war. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to keep the ball flat during a press conference. “We don’t believe in vaccine blockages of any kind,” said the conservative politician, adding, “We wouldn’t even dream of that in this country.”

According to information from EU circles, the European Commission will initially decide on two innovations on Wednesday. The vaccine expert control mechanism introduced in early February is being expanded: according to this, all planned exports in the future must be notified and approved – exceptions for partner countries such as Israel or Switzerland and developing countries would be dropped.

Moreover, it should not only be possible to stop exports if manufacturers fail to comply with their EU contracts. Rather, an additional measure should be whether “reciprocity and proportionality” are maintained. This gives the EU the means to say no more often.

It is a matter of getting an even more detailed overview of exports and ensuring that the European Union is supplied fairly, an EU representative said. Talks were held in parallel with countries such as Great Britain, but also with manufacturers. Companies that deliver reliably must continue to be supported in setting up production. Also, their long-term supply relationships must be promised.

Chancellor Merkel spoke out against “blanket export bans” for corona vaccines. Because there are several international dependencies in vaccine manufacturing, the CDU politician said. You have to look very closely at the supply chains. The Chancellor said decisions would be made “responsibly” and talks with the British government would be sought.

The stricter export controls will be discussed at the EU summit on Thursday, where the corona crisis is again the top topic. The plans for a “digital green certificate” for vaccinated, recovering and tested people, which should again provide more freedom of movement from the summer, can also be recommended.

Germany supports the concept and schedule for its launch until June 1, as European Foreign Minister Michael Roth said on the sidelines of consultations with his EU colleagues. “We want to do our utmost to ensure that this schedule can be adhered to,” said the SPD politician. “We can’t afford empty promises here.” However, the planning is very ambitious.

Roth rejected demands from Austria and other countries to redistribute corona vaccines in the EU. “I am amazed at this discussion,” he said. The previous procedure is fair and transparent.