European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has refused to apologise for perceived errors in her leadership surrounding the bloc’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and has gone as far as accusing Britain of compromising on safety in its early authorisation of vaccines.
The former German defence minister ruled out resigning over last week’s scandal which saw the Commission briefly invoke measures that would have seen a hard border imposed on the island of Ireland in a bid to retain EU-manufactured vaccine supplies within the bloc.
Speaking to a group of European newspapers, von der Leyen asked to be judged on her full term in office, saying: “In politics there are always ups and downs and even more so in times of crisis, but what matters is the final assessment.
“Let’s wait until the end of the term to see the successes and mistakes and then we will take stock.”
In yet another thinly-veiled swipe at Britain, the Eurocrat said that the European Medical Agency had been right to take longer in authorising vaccines for use, hinting Britain had moved too quickly with its vaccination roll-out.
“Some countries started to vaccinate a little before Europe, it is true.
“But they resorted to emergency 24-hour marketing authorisation procedures. The Commission and the member states agreed not to compromise with the safety and efficacy requirements linked to the authorisation of a vaccine.
“Europe left later, but it was the right decision.”
The UK is substantially ahead of the continent after its Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the BioNTech/Pfizer jab three weeks before Brussels and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine a whole month before its European counterpart.
The UK also completed orders with the vaccine manufacturers far earlier than Brussels, ensuring it was in line for initial batches of the product.
Recent figures should the European Union paying the price for its laboured approach with less than 3% of the EU population having received a jab, compared to 14 doses administered per 100 people across the United Kingdom.