EU unity in pieces: German bullies force Dutch to join export ban plot – Rutte powerless

Vaccine: EU has made ‘pig’s ear’ of rollout says Andrew Pierce

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The blockade on life-saving Covid jabs is said to be driven by fears Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats could be decimated at the polls in September’s parliamentary elections. As a result of pressure from Berlin, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to stop the export of AstraZeneca vaccines from a Dutch plant to Britain. The Halix facility in Leiden, which is expected to receive authorisation to supply member states this week, is understood to have a stockpile of the active ingredient of the Oxford vaccine.

An EU official said: “The Brits are insisting that the Halix plant in the Netherlands must deliver the drug substance produced there to them. That doesn’t work.”

The Commission is set to use its export ban to stop all exports from AstraZeneca to the UK, a source last night claimed.

“It’s bloody obvious,” they said, insisting that the EU had shipped more than 10 million doses to Britain and received none back in return.

“We cannot have a situation where the UK plant for AstraZeneca can only produce for the UK,” the insider added.

A second EU official told the Bloomberg news agency Brussels would respond to any British request for exports “very severely”.

While the Dutch do not support the draconian measures, prime minister Mr Rutte would be powerless to stop it.

The veteran leader feels he has little or no legal options to prevent the Commission from banning the export of unfinished vaccine products.

A Dutch spokesman said: “The Netherlands in principle allows exports to continue until told otherwise by the European Commission.”

EU nations are already split about plans to hand by Brussels bureaucrats wartime powers by triggering the bloc’s emergency Article 122 treaty clause.

The mechanism would allow Mrs von der Leyen to seize control of vaccine factories, block exports and rip up patents for the Oxford jab.

The former German defence minister last week announced she was preparing to use the powers amid growing anger over the EU’s shambolic vaccines rollout.

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Germany, France, Italy and Denmark have all celebrated the Commission chief’s draconian plans to stop exports to countries with more successful rollouts.

But Ireland, Belgium, Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands warned the move could have devastating consequences to European supply chains.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already been in contact with a number of his “dovish” European counterparts to form an alliance against the Brussels plot.

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He has spoken with Belgian PM Alexander De Croo and his Dutch colleague Mark Rutte since Mrs von der Leyen made the announcement.

The Dutch PM is expected to head the group of member states calling for a softer approach to Britain at a virtual leadership summit later this week.

He will call for a compromise between the EU, UK and AstraZeneca.

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