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EU vaccine row: Austria warned bloc 'can't fall behind' before major Brussels snub

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Israel’s vaccination programme has been praised as the country begins to open up. About 40 percent of the country’s population has been vaccinated, contrasting greatly with the rollout in the EU. Germany and France have fully inoculated around three percent of their population as Europe continues to struggle with the rollout. Austria and Denmark appear to have lost patience due to the delay, as Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz indicated last week. He said: “We must prepare for further mutations and should no longer be dependent solely on the EU in the production of second-generation vaccines.”

Mr Kurz added that Austria and Denmark “will no longer rely on the EU… and will in the coming years produce doses of second-generation vaccine for further mutations of the coronavirus together with Israel as well as researching jointly treatment possibilities.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she does not consider the plan to join forces with Israel as a breach of European (vaccine) cooperation, adding: “I think we are best off being in European cooperation in the field of vaccines as well.”

Upon the announcement of the vaccine deal, the French government maintained that “the most effective solution for meeting our vaccination needs must remain within a European framework”.

But Austrian Chancellor Kurz said: “We need to cooperate on this issue within the European Union… but we also need to cooperate worldwide.

“Israel is the first country in the world to show that it is possible to defeat the virus.”

The European Commission accepted the Austria-Denmark-Israel cooperation, as spokesman Eric Mamer said there was “no contradiction” of EU expectations and the arrangement was “welcome”.

In January, Mr Kurz warned that he said “Europe [can’t] fall behind” in recovering from the crisis

The UK and EU have also clashed again over vaccines after European Council President Charles Michel accused the UK of blocking the export of coronavirus vaccines.

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He added: “But the European Union, the region with the largest vaccine production capacity in the world, has simply put in place a system for controlling the export of doses produced in the EU.”

An EU diplomat has now been to the Foreign Office for “further discussions” on the dispute on Wednesday morning.

A spokesman for the EU delegation said: “This morning Nicole Mannion, deputy ambassador of the EU to the UK and charge d’affaires at the EU Delegation to the UK attended a meeting at the request of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.”



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