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EU May Ban COVID-19 Vaccine Exports Over New Checks

EU May Ban COVID-19 Vaccine Exports Over New Checks
  • PublishedJanuary 28, 2021

The European Union is setting up a Covid-19 vaccine export monitoring system giving member states an opportunity to ban shipments out of the bloc if they are not “legitimate”, officials said Thursday.

European Council President Charles Michel welcomed the move in a letter to the leaders of four member states, saying: “The EU needs to take robust action to secure its supply of vaccines and demonstrate concretely that the protection of its citizens remains our absolute priority.”

Some details of the new system were given by EU officials speaking to journalists on condition of anonymity a day ahead of its expected adoption by the European Commission.

Although they said the “emergency measure” did not target any company, it is being hastily introduced a week after a row started between the commission and Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca over a major shortfall in vaccine deliveries.

“It’s not an export ban. It’s not our plan to ban exports,” one official said, though he admitted that in “a rare case” a refusal for export “could happen”.

The system, called a “transparency and licencing mechanism for exports”, is to gather information on Covid-19 vaccine production to be sent out of the EU, which is one of the world’s vaccine-manufacturing powerhouses.

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