European Union drops Irish border move in plan to curb vaccine exports

European Union drops Irish border move in plan to curb vaccine exports

The European Union had been criticised by political leaders in London, Belfast and Dublin after it was announced that it meant to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol in order to restrict the flow of COVID-19 vaccines from the bloc into Northern Ireland.

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 the vaccines from moving across the open border between EU-member Ireland and the British-run province.

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.

Preserving the delicate peace in Northern Ireland without allowing the United Kingdom a backdoor into the EU's markets through the UK-Irish 496-kilometer land border was one of the most hard issues of the Brexit divorce talks.

In a tweet late on Friday, von der Leyen said she had spoken to Johnson: "We agreed on the principle that there should not be restrictions on the export of vaccines by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities".

The move could block the arrival of 3.5 million jabs ordered from Pfizer BioNTech in Belgium - ex-Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith called the move "almost Trumpian".

"It's absolutely disgraceful, and I have to say the Prime Minister now needs to act very quickly to deal with the real trade flows that are being disrupted between Great Britain and Northern Ireland", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday.

Mrs Foster said the European Union had placed a "hard border" between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland.

Green Bay Packers elevate Maurice Drayton to special team coordinator
The Packers would net three points on the drive. "We wish Mike, Megan, and the rest of their family the best moving forward". Darrius Shepherd fumbled a kickoff return to set up a field goal in an overtime loss at Indianapolis.

"I will be urging the prime minister to act and use robust measures including Article 16 to advance the interests of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom". "The Commission is not triggering the safeguard clause".

The Commission invoked the emergency provision as part of a new export control mechanism that is created to restrict global shipments of coronavirus vaccines if the EU's own orders are not being met in accordance with its purchase contracts.

An official in contact with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the EU's top Brexit experts were not consulted on the decision to trigger the override provision and were stunned to learn about it.

The Commission's mistake was particularly glaring because its trade department is now led by Sabine Weyand, who was one of the EU's top negotiators on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and is well-versed in the political volatility surrounding the protocol on Northern Ireland.

She said the EU's actions have "regrettably caused political harm".

He said: "The action doesn't make any sense at all and it has clearly embarrassed the Irish Government which was blindsided".

Ireland said the EU's change of heart was welcome but that lessons should be learned.

The bloc agreed to buy up to 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine past year.

Related Articles