AstraZeneca: EU legal action is a 'misjudgement' says Redwood
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Yesterday the European Commission confirmed it had begun the process of taking the drug manufacturer to court for delays to deliveries. The bloc was left angered when AstraZeneca said it would only be able to provide about a third of the doses pledged for the second quarter of 2021.
The company argues they were only contractually obliged to use their “best endeavours” to meet the demands.
The EU’s decision has left MPs in Britain bewildered and up in arms.
Deputy leader of the European Research Group, David Jones, said: “AstraZeneca’s production of this vaccine has been a genuinely charitably exercise for the benefit of the entire world.
“That appears to be lost on the EU.
“They’ve approached the whole thing rather peculiarly.”
The Conservative MP added: “Given that they wrote the contract under EU law, they must have appreciated if the obligation from AstraZeneca was only to use best endeavours and if having used best endeavours they couldn’t fulfil the contract as quickly as they would have liked, it’s going to be a more speculative action from the EU’s perspective.
“There doesn’t appear to be any recognition of the fact that AstraZeneca has done a tremendous service to the entire world by producing this vaccine and rollout it out.”
The drugs company is manufacturing the life-saving jabs at cost, making no profit for its worldwide distribution.
It means a dose of AstraZeneca costs approximately just £3.
The injection is far cheaper than others available, making it more affordable for countries with a lower GDP.
AstraZeneca made the commitment as part of the terms struck with the UK Government to distribute the jab developed by Oxford University.
After the EU’s decision to take legal action, one MP text Express.co.uk: “No good deed by the UK goes unpunished by the EU for long.”
Richard Tice, the leader of Reform UK, the rebranded Brexit Party, described the EU as behaving like “bullies”.
AstraZeneca’s contract with the European Commission was for the delivery of 180 million vaccine doses to the EU in the second quarter of this year, for a total of 300 million in the period from December to June.
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Announcing its legal action, an EU spokesman told a news conference yesterday: “The Commission has started last Friday a legal action against AstraZeneca.
“Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure timely delivery of doses.”
Vowing to strongly defend itself, AstraZeneca said there was no basis for the legal action being taken by the Commission.
In a statement, the firm said: “AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court.
“We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.”
Downing Street also defended AstraZeneca in the face of legal action.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “AstraZeneca has been a hugely strong partner to the UK and in fact, for their work globally they have been a vital part of our vaccine rollout programme.
“We continue to look forward to working with them.”
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