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28 Jan 2021 | 15:01

EU considers legal means if Covid-19 vaccines delayed, Council President says

(Sharecast News) - The European Union should explore legal means to secure supplies of Covid-19 vaccines if companies do not deliver them on time and if negotiations with pharmaceutical companies prove unsuccessful, the European Council President, Charles Michel, said on Thursday.

According to Reuters, the EU, which is currently at odds with drugmaker AstraZeneca over its failure to deliver shots, has asked the firm to divert part of the output from its plants in the UK.

Brussels is also planning greater oversight of vaccine exports from the bloc.

Some of the EU's 27 member states also proposed taking legal action to force pharmaceutical companies to honour their vaccine supply commitments.

Michel said in the letter that if it were "deemed politically opportune", EU action could include recourse to the bloc's Article 122, under which EU states would legally take "measures appropriate to the economic situation" in case of severe supply difficulties.

"This would give the EU and member states the legal means, by adopting appropriate urgent measures, to ensure effective vaccine production and supply for our population," Michel said in his letter to the leaders of Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Greece, which was seen by Reuters.

"I made this suggestion to the (European) Commission President von der Leyen so that we can explore this avenue imminently," he wrote.

The EU failed to make a breakthrough in crisis talks with AstraZeneca on Wednesday. The drugmaker was unable to give a detailed explanation of how it would supply the bloc with reserved doses of Covid-19 vaccine from plants in Europe and Britain.
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