Ursula von der Leyen snub: EU chief refuses to sign name for global response to pandemics

UK vaccine success ‘got under skin’ of von der Leyen says expert

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The European Commission President’s name was left off of a list of signatories supporting the creation of an international treaty. The list included France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also backed the calls to prevent “isolationism and nationalism” when fighting pandemics in the future.

An EU source said: “Indeed, the Commission was informed of the op-ed and the scope of the Treaty on pandemics but chose not to co-sign.”

Mrs von der Leyen, a former German defence minister, has been at the centre of a Brussels-led attempt to blockade shipments of life-saving coronavirus vaccines.

She has suggested that countries with better vaccination rates and less infections than the EU should not be allowed to be sent jabs made in Europe.

The Commission chief refused to sign despite multiple offers for her to join to leadership pact, insiders said.

Even hardliners, President Macron and his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi, some of the most vocal in the push for a Brussels-led export ban on vaccines, signed the joint letter.

A European Commission spokeswoman said: “Let me emphasise that there is strong cooperation going on between the President and the President of the European Council on future pandemic preparedness.”

But the official refused to confirm or deny that Mrs von der Leyen was offered the opportunity to join world leaders in signing the opinion piece, published today in a number of European newspapers.

The letter, one of the largest joint international efforts to broker a treaty since the end of the Second World War, calls for a “universal and equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines”.

Sources claim that the joint statement could have a positive impact on the wrangling between the UK and EU over vaccine shipments.

The talks between London and Brussels continue this week.

Mr Michel and Mr Johnson were said to have discussed the possibility of brokering a global vaccination treaty when they held talks last week.

The world leaders wrote: “At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system.

“The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and co-operation, namely peace, prosperity, health and security.”

The treaty “should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms”, they said.

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