European media turn against Ursula von der Leyen for ‘unforgettable Brexit own goal’

EU vaccine rollout is a ‘mismanaged mess’ says Adler

The bloc was accused of an “incredible act of hostility” after it invoked Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to control the export of jabs to the UK. It was forced to back down when the scale of the outrage in London, Belfast and Brussels became clear but the political damage had already been done. And European media was quick to condemn the move which would have effectively created a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland.

It is deplorable that political interests and geopolitical rivalries take precedence

Le Monde

Germany’s Die Welt newspaper savaged European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, saying she had scored an “unforgettable Brexit own goal”.

It said Ms von der Leyen was “undermining the European Union’s credibility with her actions” and warned she had damaged good relations with the UK in an bid to “distract from her own mistakes”.

The paper said triggering Article 16 was “absurd” and reported that EU leaders had “looked forward to cornering Boris Johnson”.

It said the EU had previously closed ranks around the Irish border issue which it now seemed to “completely forget” in its “corona panic”.

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France’s Le Monde branded the move “deplorable” and welcomed the decision to ditch the inflammatory border decision.

The paper claimed there was “panic” among EU leaders over its growing issue with vaccines supply and its row with AstraZeneca.

It said Ms von der Leyen had “fortunately” given up trying to invoke Article 16 and warned the EU was “ill-equipped” to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Le Monde said: “It is deplorable that political interests and geopolitical rivalries take precedence over the issue that no one should lose sight of: vaccinating as many people as possible, in Europe and in the rest of the world.”

The Irish Times highlighted the “political uproar” sparked by the EU move while another Irish newspaper, The Journal, noted how Brussels had spread “alarm across the political spectrum”.

EU diplomats acknowledged last night’s move had been a “misjudgment”.

The u-turn came after Boris Johnson expressed his “grave concern” to Ms von der Leyen, who also faced pressure from Irish premier Micheal Martin.

The EU chief said she had agreed a “satisfactory way to introduce an export authorisation mechanism” for vaccines with Mr Martin, who was said to be furious about the initial move.

Ms von der Leyen said she had held “constructive talks” with Mr Johnson.

She said: “We agreed on the principle that there should not be restrictions on the export of vaccines by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities.”

German paper Bild had earlier condemned the EU’s disastrous programme and praised Mr Johnson for laying the foundation of the UK’s successful roll-out.

Bild highlighted the fact that Britain has vaccinated at least 10.6 percent of its population compared with 2 percent in Germany and 1.9 percent across the entire EU.

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It said: “In March 2020, Brexit Boris laid the foundation for the vaccination success: It brought the Oxford University together with AstraZeneca. Your mission: to develop the remedy against Corona together.

“Instead of waiting for the EU junk commission, Johnson ordered 30 million doses of vaccine from BionTech/Pfizer on July 20.

“The British now vaccinate in stadiums, clinics and doctors’ offices.”

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