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Sat Jan 30, 2021, 10:11 PM

EU's vaccine blunder reopens Brexit battle over Irish border

Source: The Observer

EUís vaccine blunder reopens Brexit battle over Irish border

Tory MPs use short-lived announcement of export ban to call for overhaul of trade deal, as EU chief is attacked over U-turn

Michael Savage and Daniel Boffey
Sat 30 Jan 2021 16.00 EST

The European Unionís threat to impose a vaccine border between Northern Ireland and the Republic risks reigniting one of Brexitís bitterest disputes, as senior Tories said the move proved the need for an immediate overhaul of the blocís treatment of Northern Ireland.

The renewed demands emerged with the EU facing an extraordinary backlash over its bungled announcement of potential export controls on vaccines produced within the bloc. The World Health Organization (WHO) condemned the move and the pharmaceutical industry warned that the measures would damage their vaccination efforts.

However, the EUís initial threat to stop vaccines crossing freely from the EU to Northern Ireland Ė swiftly withdrawn after it set off a diplomatic crisis between Ireland, the EU and the UK Ė has also reopened the toxic political row over Northern Irelandís post-Brexit status.

Tory Brexiters were planning this weekend to use the row to demand an overhaul of the Brexit deal over Northern Ireland that has seen trade issues emerge with Great Britain. The row has heaped huge pressure on European commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who has already faced blame over the relative slowness of the EUís vaccination programme compared with nations such as the US, UK and Israel. The EUís threat of border controls within Ireland had been part of the blocís export control measures on vaccines, designed to tackle delivery shortfalls.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/30/eus-vaccine-blunder-reopens-brexit-battle-over-irish-border


Source: BBC

EU 'fiasco' on N Ireland heaps pressure on Commission

Katya Adler
Europe editor
@BBCkatyaadleron Twitter

30 January 2021

"Misjudgement", "mismanagement", "blunder"... and words that were far, far stronger.

That's what I've been hearing from EU insiders about the European Commission's initial decision on Friday to suspend part of the Brexit deal agreement on Northern Ireland, in its rush to impose restrictions on Covid vaccines, or components of vaccines, exported from the bloc.

The EU vaccine roll-out is in very clear trouble. EU countries are openly desperate to get hold of the jabs they have been promised to put in voters' arms. But representatives of member states I've spoken to say they were blindsided by the European Commission move.

"We certainly weren't asked about it," one EU diplomat told me. "If we had been, we would have shouted loudly that it was a terrible idea. The decision was taken, in a hurry, at the top or close to the top [of the Commission]."

Even more astonishing, considering the huge sensitivity of the Northern Ireland chapter of the Brexit deal, EU member Ireland wasn't consulted, or even informed, of the Commission's intention.


Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55872763

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