EU Says to Ensure Northern Ireland Protected in Vaccine Row

The European Union dropped a plan to prevent vaccines moving from the bloc to Northern Ireland, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said, after the move provoked fury in London, Dublin and Belfast.

The EU’s executive arm said in a late-night statement on Friday that it will “ensure that the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol is unaffected” and that it “is not triggering the safeguard clause.”

The partial climbdown came after the EU said that it was considering ushering in temporary export vaccine controls with Northern Ireland, ensuring doses produced in the bloc wouldn’t arrive in mainland Britain via Belfast.

That would have involved using emergency powers to override the deal that effectively kept Northern Ireland in the bloc’s customs union after Brexit. The accord avoided the need for checkpoints on the frontier between the north and south of Ireland, long considered a flashpoint in any potential resurgence of violence.

While the EU’s executive arm said it won’t trigger the controversial emergency clause of the post-Brexit deal that sparked the uproar, it warned that it will consider using it if its potential vaccine export bans are circumvented.

“In the process of finalising the document, the Commission will also be fine-tuning the decision-making process under the implementing regulation,” the statement aid.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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