Arlene Foster hits out after European Union triggers Article 16 of protocol

Arlene Foster hits out after European Union triggers Article 16 of protocol

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday told European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen of his "grave concerns" after Brussels partially suspended terms of the Brexit deal as part of a vaccine export control scheme.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has welcomed the European Commission's decision not to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol on Brexit.

Britain had threatened to trigger the Article 16 safeguard measures earlier in the month if there were "serious problems" in supplying supermarkets in Northern Ireland.

In a statement, a spokesman said: "CDL Michael Gove just spoke to European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic to express the UK's concern over a lack of notification from the EU about its actions in relation to the NI protocol".

A Downing Street statement added: "The UK has legally-binding agreements with vaccine suppliers and it would not expect the European Union, as a friend and ally, to do anything to disrupt the fulfilment of these contracts".

"The protocol exists as a solution to avoid a hard border on the island, thereby enabling the all-island economy and Good Friday Agreement to be protected".

The EU triggered article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol which allows control on goods leaving the EU for the UK.

In a steep escalation of the EU's fight to secure vaccine supplies, Brussels had said it would trigger clauses in the Northern Irish Protocol to prevent shots moving across the open border between EU-member Ireland and the British-run province.

It was not immediately clear if the move to invoke the article, set out in a document published on Friday, would come into effect immediately.

Northern Irish unionists cast the move as an act of hostility. "They need to work together with others", he tweeted.

The Irish premier Micheal Martin is in discussions with European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen to express his concerns, according to an Irish government spokesperson.

German panel keeps advice against AstraZeneca jabs for over-65s
She said the AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to handle than the other mRNA-based vaccines in terms of transport and storage. The German authorities assured the public that this was only an initial assessment and wasn't a final evaluation.

Britain has its own domestic supply chain in place for AstraZeneca's shot, including rolling it out in Northern Ireland, but it imports Pfizer's vaccine from a factory in Belgium.

The move to activate Article 16 will frustrate any effort to use Northern Ireland as a back door to bring vaccines into Great Britain.

"By triggering Article 16 in this manner, the European Union has once again shown it is prepared to use Northern Ireland when it suits their interests but in the most despicable manner - over the provision of a vaccine which is created to save lives".

Northern Ireland's vaccines arrive from the rest of the United Kingdom at present so those will be unaffected.

But preventing vaccines made with the European Union from being exported could hinder the UK's access to further supplies, particularly to the Belgian-made Pfizer jab.

Brussels has also demanded doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in British plants in order to solve its supply shortage issues, as member states were forced to pause or delay their rollouts.

"Our citizens need timely access to lifesaving vaccines, not trade disputes between the European Union and the British government".

He claimed the United Kingdom had "regained sovereignty over their waters" and that it was "reasonable" to say "the British have won over the current situation" - amid ongoing disputes between Britain's fishermen and the government over the dramatic effect of new Brexit policies on decreasing seafood sales.

The Sinn Fein vice president described the EU's actions as "clearly unwise, ill-judged and totally unnecessary", but said the protocol - "while imperfect" - must stay.

"We're quite confident because the immune responses are so similar that we will see immune responses in the same way as we have in younger adults", he said.

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