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Juncker ‘very much opposed’ to EU vaccine export controls

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

Former Commission president says bloc was right to work together to get vaccines, but process was too slow.

Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday blasted vaccine export controls introduced last week by his successor, Ursula von der Leyen.

The Commission on Friday adopted a regulation instructing customs authorities to block all COVID-19 vaccine exports to some 100 countries worldwide, unless they receive an export authorization from national governments in the EU.

“We actually have not had good experiences with export restrictions in Europe,” said Juncker, speaking at a virtual event organized by the German state of Baden-Württemberg. “At the beginning of the pandemic crisis, some countries made the incomprehensible decision to not export medical material. This was corrected by the European Commission. Now we are back in a debate where again the suggestion is being made that nothing should be exported from the European Union to other non-EU countries.”

Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg who led the European Commission from 2014 to 2019, condemned the export restrictions in strong terms.

“We are … not just responsible for ourselves. This is a pandemic that affects everyone on this planet. I am very much opposed to the European Union now giving the impression that we are taking care of ourselves and that the suffering of other people, especially in poorer countries and on poorer continents, does not affect us.”

Juncker also spoke about the EU’s procurement of vaccines, arguing that it was right to work together and not rush the approval of jabs, but criticizing the pace with which contracts were negotiated with pharmaceutical companies.

“I believe it all went too slow, it hasn’t all been done with the maximum transparency, even though that would have been a difficult task,” the former Commission president said.

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