Von der Leyen out of her depth! EU’s ‘blame games and smears’ over vaccine row slammed

European Parliament is ‘not a punch bag’ says David Sassoli

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Brussels bureaucrats have repeatedly threatened to block vaccine exports to countries including the UK because it has the audacity to succeed where it had failed. Many of the bloc’s countries, including France and Germany, also temporarily suspended the AstraZeneca jab over baseless concerns it could cause blood clots.

It was quickly rescinded but the needless wrangling “undermined” its own rollout by creating unfounded worries in the minds of its citizens, medical experts said.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has since backtracked after the row threatened to descend in a prolonged trade war with the UK.

But that didn’t stop influential commentators slamming the EU’s actions – seen by many as a spiteful attempt to punish Brexit Britain.

Conservative MP John Redwood tweeted: “The EU should spend less time arguing over how to share out the vaccines we can make and more time ensuring more vaccines are made.

“That means co-operating with great companies who are getting on with the task of increasing production.”

The veteran Eurosceptic’s views were backed by Wolfgang Munchau – an expert commentator on the EU.

The director of specialist EU news service EuroIntelligence wrote: “There are many ways of not solving the problem.

“EU goes through them one by one: Blame games, empty threats, smear-campaign, who-gets-what discussions. How about just focusing on the problem itself?”

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Both tweeted quickly garnered dozens of comments and likes.

One person wrote: “Ursula Von Der Leyen set the bar for competence at low levels not even Frank Spencer could dream of.”

Referring to vast quantities of unused vaccines the EU already has, another said: “And actually use the millions they’re storing in fridges all over Europe.

“That would be a cracking start.”

A third tweeted: “(Mrs Von der Leyen) VDL seems (to be) from a different Euro-style mould.

“Her track record is one of one disaster followed by another.”

The row was sparked after the Anglo-Swedish manufacturer AstraZeneca was criticised by the EU for allegedly not honouring contracts.

AstraZeneca denies the allegations.

Elements of the AstraZeneca vaccination are manufactured in a number of EU states and exported to third countries including the UK.

Mrs von der Leyen said the firm must “catch up” on deliveries to the EU before exporting doses elsewhere.

This led to accusations, from the UK and the World Health Organization (WHO) among others, of vaccine nationalism.

In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that “blockades” were not “sensible”.

To prevent the argument escalating further, the EU and UK issued a joint statement pledging to work together.

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