Remainers turn on EU over vaccine row – Von der Leyen branded ‘Theresa May of Brussels’

EU’s ‘act is very childlike and revealing’ says expert

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The EU has come under fire over its slow and chaotic vaccine programme, which has seen Brussels threaten to block exports of jabs to the UK. And the row has even sparked criticism from Europhiles who have hit out at the bloc.

Lord Adonis branded European Commission president Mrs von der Leyen the “Theresa May of Brussels” – adding that she “may even be worse”.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May stood down after failing to deliver Brexit.

In an article for Prospect magazine, the Labour peer said the vaccine farce shows an “alarming power vacuum”.

Lord Adonis – who is campaigning for the UK to rejoin the bloc – went as far as to suggest Mrs von der Leyen should be removed as the commission’s president, saying “the time may be coming”.

Meanwhile, former editor of the Financial Times Lionel Barber accused the bloc of wanting to “have its cake and eat it”.

He tweeted: “The European Commission wants to have its cake and eat it. A spokesman claims no vaccine export ban to UK and calls for companies to respect contracts. Yes, but what about AZ contract with UK government? Struck cleaner and earlier, well before sundry EU leaders dissed the AZ vaxx!”

The ex-Financial Times editor was offered France’s highest honour – the Légion d’honneur – in recognition of the newspaper’s “positive role in the European debate”.

And Conservative MP Stephen Hammond, who lost the Tory whip for a month in 2019 after rebelling against Brexit, said people were “baffled about the actions of the EU”.

It comes as exports to the UK of coronavirus vaccines produced in the bloc could be restricted.

The European Commission said on Wednesday it may refuse to approve exports to nations that are further ahead with vaccine rollouts or where there is a better “epidemiological situation”.

The EU announced the move as it is embroiled in a row with AstraZeneca over supplies.

But it did not rule out Pfizer jabs being restricted to the UK if sufficient vaccines are not shipped to the bloc.

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Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis denied the export authorisation mechanism was targeted at any one country but said 10 million jabs had moved from the EU to the UK since it introduced checks and that “zero doses” had returned from British plants.

He argued that the controls are necessary because while the EU is one of the “global hotspots of the pandemic” it is also the “largest exporter of vaccines”.

Member states and the commission will consider two key factors before authorising vaccine exports under the mechanism.

First they will consider whether the destination country restricts its own exports of vaccines, or raw materials, under plans to tackle “reciprocity”.

Second, under “proportionality”, they will consider whether the “conditions prevailing” in the destination country are “better or worse than the EU’s”.

Its epidemiological situation, its vaccination rate and its access to vaccines were listed as particular considerations.

Just over 10 percent of adults across the EU have received a first coronavirus vaccine but in the UK the figure is over 53 percent.

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