EU Nations Split Over Need to Renew Vaccine Export Controls
(Bloomberg) -- Several European Union governments are pushing back against a proposal by the bloc’s executive arm to extend controls on vaccine exports, according to people familiar with the matter.
The European Commission is intent on renewing the Covid-era mechanism that allows it to track where vaccines are exported to and to block shipments under certain circumstances, the people said.
But at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, several diplomats said they no longer saw the need for export controls now that the EU has sufficient vaccine capacity to meet its vaccine demand. Envoys from a handful of nations were among those to question the rationale for renewal, according to officials.
An EU official said the mechanism, which doesn’t amount to a complete export ban, has provided clarity on where vaccines produced in the bloc are going. And the instrument is still needed due to the potential emergence of new variants and the possible need for booster shots, the official added.
Since December 2020, the EU has exported 700 million jabs to 130 countries. Before the controls came into force, the bloc had limited insight into where vaccines were being shipped to.
The mechanism, which requires exporters to seek permission before they ship vaccines, has permitted shipments for all but one request. In March, the EU and Italy blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca PLC jabs destined for Australia.
On Thursday, the European Commission announced that it is launching a new effort aimed at preventing, detecting and responding to health emergencies. The European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority will carry out pandemic threat assessments and help facilitate the production and distribution of medicine and vaccines during health crises.
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