Ursula von der Leyen savaged over ’diplomatic disaster’ amid vaccine rollout ‘fiasco’

Ursula von der Leyen urged to resign by Estonian MEP

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Guy Verhofstadt, the senior liberal MEP, hit out at the EU chief over the bloc’s vaccines “fiasco” amid a new export approval that “burdens” the jab rollout. According to the Times, he also hit out at Ms von der Leyen for pushing to create a hard Irish border last month, putting a strain on diplomatic ties with Britain.

The former Belgian prime minister said: “The use of the Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol has been a diplomatic disaster that destroyed in a few seconds the seriousness of the negotiations with the UK conducted by Michel Barnier for more than three years.”

He also accused Ms von der Leyen of “prolonging drastically the COVID pandemic on mainland Europe”.

Mr Verhofstadt said: “A fiasco I called it and a fiasco it is.

“After two months the rollout of vaccines is dramatically low in Europe.

“On average no more than four percent of European citizens received a first dose.

“The introduction of new export authorisation for COVID vaccines adds only unnecessary burdens and by doing so prolongs and doesn’t speed up vaccinations.”

He pointed out that while 75 percent of the jabs are produced in Europe, the commission’s transactions have left the bloc undersupplied.

He said: “The EU is a world leader in producing vaccines yet there is a lack of supply in every EU country.

“It’s a lack not seen in the same dramatic proportions in the US, Canada or the UK.

“In the US nearly 10 per cent of the population has had a first shot. In Britain it’s 20 per cent.”

Yesterday, European Council boss Charles Michel took a swipe at Ms von der Leyen as he ordered the commission to “work around the clock” to secure coronavirus jabs.

On a visit to Poland, Mr Michel said EU nations needed eurocrats to “work around the clock” to procure more doses of the vaccine.

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He told reporters: “The main challenge we are confronted with is speeding up vaccine delivery to member states so they can effectively implement their vaccination campaigns.

“So, the number one priority, and what the Commission needs to work around the clock, is to increase production so that producers can deliver on their promises.”

The EU has so far delivered 22.3 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, at a rate of five per 100 people.

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