Emmanuel Macron humiliated as colleague admitted ‘France won’t have vaccine’
Emmanuel Macron: Layla Moran hits out at ‘stupid’ comments
Brussels was thrown into turmoil this week as a delayed coronavirus vaccine roll-out saw the EU threaten to cut-off the UK’s supplies. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was forced to backtrack on the bloc’s decision to stop the doses leaving the continent following a tense call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. She also told EU civil servants to reverse the decision to trigger Article 16 of the Brexit deal.
The move effectively created a hard border on the island of Ireland, furthering an already tense political situation.
It came as the coronavirus vaccine, made by company AstraZeneca at the University of Oxford, left production facilities in Europe and headed for the UK.
Europe has so far lagged behind Britain’s vaccination programme, which has largely been blamed on Brussels “bureaucracy”.
Member states handed the EU power to negotiate vaccine procurement on their behalf last year, with countries now up in arms over the delay in kick-starting what should be the end of the pandemic.
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In France, President Macron’s colleagues have hit-out directly at the leader after a French start-up announced it would provide Britain, who it secured a contract, with 40 million doses of coronavirus jabs ahead of France.
While the doses, according to the Valneva’s President Franck Grimaud, will arrive on British soil as early as June 2021, France will be left empty-handed, as well as other European countries, until at least 2022.
This is despite the company being based in Saint-Herblain, Pays de la Loire, France.
Now, the Council President of the Pays de la Loire region, Christelle Morançais, blamed Mr Macron for missing out on the chance to inoculate French people first.
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She said: “It is vital that the state proves it has much more agility and reactivity when it comes to supporting and defending our companies at the forefront of fighting the virus.
“France has missed the chance of ‘its’ own Covid vaccine.”
The reality of the EU’s vaccine programme getting delayed is something that politicians have talked about over the past year.
Brussels initially invited the UK to participate in the scheme.
However, Alok Sharma, then Business Secretary, decided against it.
He said his team were concerned that “costly delays” would occur.
A Government source at the time told The Daily Telegraph: “The terms just weren’t right for us.
“The EU scheme wouldn’t allow the UK to do anything more than it currently is.”
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European leaders have since lashed out at the bloc over the crisis.
Markus Söder, who is tipped to run for Germany’s Chancellorship this September, expressed what many have noted as a significant factor in the EU’s desperate attempt to thwart Britain’s vaccines.
Earlier this year, he said: “The time factor is crucial.
“If Israel, the US or the UK are far ahead of us in vaccination, they will also benefit economically.
“The question of how we get through corona economically is closely related to how quickly we get through with vaccination.”
Meanwhile, the UK pushes on with its nationwide inoculation drive.
According to Our World in Data, while Britain has vaccinated 17 in every 100 people, France has managed just 3 in every 100.
Mr Johnson and Mr Macron have since discussed co-operation in their countries’ fight against the pandemic.
No10 yesterday confirmed that the two leaders had met, and had also discussed cross-channel relations amid continuing tensions over post-Brexit arrangements.
Last week, Mr Macron was criticised for questioning the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine which had already been given to millions of people in Britain.
It was widely regarded as part of the EU’s vaccine frustration.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) criticised the bloc’s announcement of export controls on vaccines produced within the bloc, with its vice-head Mariangela Simao describing Brussels’ actions as a “very worrying trend”.
Its Director General, Tedros Adhanom, said such “vaccine nationalism” could lead to a “protracted recovery”.
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