Vaccine row: EU chief claims bloc's jab rate is 'same' as UK
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In a new twist for the EU vaccines row, the top eurocrat was told to “get his own house in order” rather than attempting to broker a global treaty on pandemic response. Mr Michel co-signed a call from more than 20 world leaders for the creation of an international agreement to help manage future health scares in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. In a press briefing this morning, the EU’s most senior official said: “For this global approach to work, we need more transparency, more accountability, and more shared responsibility in the international system.
“COVID-19 has been a harsh reminder – no one is safe until everyone is safe. That’s why leaders from every region of the world have come together to propose collective action at international level.”
But MEPs were quick to remind the European Council President that the EU’s approach had been far from “transparent”.
It was noted that many of the bloc’s contracts with vaccine producers had been left redacted, keeping the most sensitive information hidden from the public, in a new low in the jab spat across the continent.
Belgian MEP Marc Botenga said viewing the EU’s joint vaccine contracts was enough to make anyone “laugh or cry”.
He added: “I just read the versions published by the EU Commission of its vaccines contracts with Pfizer and Moderna. Frankly, it’s humiliating.
“They were even more censored than the previous ones.”
Brussels sparked fury when it refused to publish nonredacted copies of its deal with AstraZeneca.
Mr Botenga said: “Vaccine production: it is absurd that, in exchange for public funds, in full pandemic, there is no longer transparency and public control.
“If we want to increase production, let’s think about removing the patent and sharing technology.”
And Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes said Mr Michel should focus on the EU’s bungled vaccination rollout before joining a global effort to stop future pandemics.
He said: “The measure of success in combating Covid is not the advice given to other countries but the proven record in your own country.
“In this regards, the EU strategy in combating Covid is a proven failure.
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“Charles Michel and the EU should get its own house in order before offering lessons and advice to everyone else.”
Meanwhile, it emerged Ursula von der Leyen refused the chance to sign the pledge by more than 20 world leaders for a new plan to fight pandemics.
The Commission President’s name was missing off a list that included EU leaders such as Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, as well as Prime Minister Mr Johnson.
EU insiders said the top eurocrat shunned several approaches to co-sign an article endorsing the plans.
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One source said: “The Commission was informed of the op-ed and the scope of the treaty on pandemics but chose not to co-sign.”
Mrs von der Leyen’s deputy spokeswoman did not confirm or deny the claims.
Her aide added: “Let me emphasise that there is strong cooperation going on between the president and the president of the European Council on future pandemic preparedness.”
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