Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has been reassured that the European Commission does not wish to block Britain’s supply of Covid-19 vaccines from EU-based manufacturers.
In a protectionist and highly controversial move, the Commission yesterday introduced measures to monitor vaccine exports to non-EU countries, giving the EU executive the authority to block vaccines going to external markets.
In a tweet on Saturday afternoon, Mr Raab said he had been “reassured” by the Commission’s Executive Vice President, Valdis Dombrovskis that vaccine supplies will not be restricted.
Constructive conversation with @VDombrovskis this afternoon. I was reassured the EU has no desire to block suppliers fulfilling contracts for vaccine distribution to the UK. The world is watching and it is only through international collaboration that we will beat this pandemic.@DominicRaab
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who has also been in talks with senior EU officials following last night’s fall out, told Sky News that the EU “recognise they made a mistake” and called for a “reset” in relations after soaring tensions over the past week.
Critics will however question the extent to which the European Commission can now be trusted after it, without even consulting the Irish government, invoked Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol yesterday evening which effectively would have introduced a border on the island of Ireland, sparking outrage.
Despite rowing back on the decision within a matter of hours, the unilateral decision taken by the Commission will – as the German press admitted this morning – have done untold damage to the credibility of the European Union as a good faith negotiatior and a self-proclaimed promoter of peace.