Brexit: Manfred Weber says Boris Johnson is 'losing credibility'
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And Mr Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament, also claimed the bloc had forced Boris Johnson to the negotiating table in the wake of his phone calls with Mrs Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the weekend, during which he discussed the situation. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to impose just such a ban on exports to the EU, insisting AstraZeneca must first deliver the doses it was contracted to provide for the EU.
Mr Weber made his remarks during an early morning appearance on German television station ZDF, during which he clashed with SPD politician Bernd Lange, who sits on the European Parliament’s Trade Committee, and who is opposed to a ban.
Mr Weber said: “We want partnership. We Europeans are willing to work with the rest of the world to fight this pandemic and we can only do this together, everybody knows this.
“However, when I hear that we are discussing a potential vaccine war, then we have to note this vaccine war is already raging. Great Britain, USA, did not deliver any vaccines to Europe, but we are assiduously delivering to GB.
We now have to tighten the thumbscrews
“And that is why we now have to tighten the thumbscrews.
“I do believe that we now also have to think of our own citizens in the EU.”
Mr Lange argued that the bloc’s quarrel was with AstraZeneca, as opposed to the United Kingdom, and should therefore pursue them rather than imposing restrictions that could potentially impact Britain’s vaccination programme.
READ MORE: EU targets Britain with ban – but exempts 118 countries
However, Mr Weber added: “We are facing the biggest crisis since WWII, Europe is facing an economic abyss.
“The Federal Republic of Germany has to take on more than €100billion euros in debt this year.
“And that’s why every day counts, and that is why I don’t have any sympathy if all we do is discuss contract law with the individual companies. The state now has to act.”
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He said: “The people expect their state to act and makes sure the vaccines arrive.
“And if we talk to states, then we to be clear with GB and the USA. Reciprocity!
“Those who don’t deliver to us can’t expect us to deliver to them and therefore there has at least be the discussion about a temporary stop of vaccine deliveries abroad on Thursday between the heads of state and government.”
Mr Weber recalled the EU’s pledge to have offered a jab to every EU citizen by the end of summer.
He said: “I want to make good on this. And for this we have to do whatever needs to be done.”
Responding to Mr Lange’s suggestion that an EU ban could trigger retaliatory bans from other countries, including the UK, Mr Weber pointed out that Britain too was reliant on numerous additives, including lipids, fat molecules which are used to encase the virus’s genetic material and transport it into the body, which were coming from other countries.
He added: “he fact that the delivery chains are connected, this fact is also true for GB and for the USA.
“They also need those lipids, the primary substances, for example from Canada.
“Despite this, the USA and GB have imposed a virtual export ban in the last months.
“What we could do, would be to that at least GB and the USA would talk to us and I would like to tell you Mr Lange, the last days, the fact that Boris Johnson would positively talk about the EU, that he would call Ursula von der Leyen, Angela Merkel, Macron and say ‘how can we do this’, this alone was caused by the discussion about the export ban.
“And I would like us to talk fairly with each other and for this Europe now has to shift up a gear
“That is why I will stick to it, we have to keep our summer promise and on Thursday the heads of state and government have to seriously discuss a temporary export ban, especially for AstraZeneca, the partner who does not cooperate.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
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