The European papers didn’t hold back in their criticism of the European Commission on Saturday, the morning after the EU executive U-turned on a highly controversial decision to trigger a clause within the Brexit agreement that would have seen the free movement of goods restricted on the island of Ireland.
French newspaper, Le Monde called the Commission “ill-equipped” to handle the coronvarius crisis and, in an apparent swipe at the decision taken in Brussels to implement export checks on vaccines to non-EU countries, described it as “deplorable that political interests and geopolitical rivalries take precedence over the issue that no one should lose sight of: vaccinating as many people as possible”.
Die Welt in Germany published a piece by its correspondent, Stefanie Bolzen titled: Ursula von der Leyen’s unforgettable Brexit own goal in which Bolzen claims last night’s row back had “damaged the credibility of the EU itself” and suggested that Brexiteers will use it as ammunition to torpedo the Brexit agreement.
“Meanwhile, the pro-Europeans on the island have to ask themselves whether the departure from Brussels might not have been so bad after all”, Bolzen concludes.
Italy’s La Repubblica, which published that sensational interview with AstraZeneca CEO, Pascal Soriot that lit the fuse on the vaccine crisis reported that “even the most pro-European politicians and exponents have expressed disappointment at the EU announcements yesterday on such a sensitive issue as Northern Ireland”.
The Independent in the Republic of Ireland described events as an “embarrassing U-turn” for the bloc.
The European Commission issued a statement late last night reversing its decision to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
An Irish government source told the Independent that the article may have been accidentally triggered by “someone who did not understand the political implications” of doing so…