By doing “Vaccine spat“The prevailing view between the EU and the UK is that the UK is winning. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this was due to his administration secured a better contract with vaccine manufacturers, particularly AstraZeneca, as the EU.
The EU produces far more vaccines than the UK, but it also exports far more, including to the UK, while no vaccines go the other way. In response to this imbalance that is creating shortages in the EU while the UK is well supplied, the EU threatened to block exports to countries with higher vaccination rates until Member States catch up.
In other words, the UK, which according to these numbers would only have been able to vaccinate around 10 to 18% of its population if it had to rely on domestic supplies, is being massively bailed out from vaccines by its European neighbors.
Why should the EU be so generous? Hancock referred to the clauses in the UK vaccine supply contracts that require vaccine manufacturers to do so deliver it preferentially: If there are production bottlenecks, the UK order must be fulfilled by diverting supplies from other customers. Failure to do so will result in severe penalties.
As a result, the UK has fully fulfilled its mandates, while the EU suffered from early deficits from Pfizer and is now receiving less than a quarter of what it has contracted from AstraZeneca that has experienced Production problems.
The EU believes that if production is disrupted, all customers should see a proportional reduction in supplies. According to the UK, it has a right to preferential delivery as this is stated in the contract. The UK government invested in research at Oxford University to power the AstraZeneca vaccine. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, England.
Which contract to choose?
For legal reasons, both the EU and the UK have a case. Both contracts contain the “best possible effort”. Clause intended to cover the situation in which force majeure – a legal term for an event beyond your control – makes complete delivery impossible or unreasonably difficult.
However, signing a preferential contract with someone else is not a force majeure: the same thing is only sold twice. AstraZeneca’s EU commitments are not diminished by its promises to the UK. However, if AstraZeneca had evenly distributed the production of its four European plants between the EU and the UK, as the EU wishes, it would be against the UK treaty. It seems to have promised too much to too many people.
The question is why AstraZeneca preferred to breach the EU treaty rather than the UK treaty. This will largely be due to the fact that the UK deal was closed much harsher penalties – The EU agreement does not provide for penalties beyond non-payment and requires informal negotiation rather than litigation when problems arise.
So the UK has not contracted any better as it has a right to the vaccines it receives. according to the law applicable to the EU treaty, this is not the case. Rather, the UK appears to have shrunk better in the sole sense that the breach was more costly.
This is in part a product of different legal systems and their styles: European contracting parties typically view contracts as a tool for building trust and long-term relationships. Anglo-American legal culture tends to see contracts as a way of avoiding the need for trust at all. Some Europeans seem jealous of this British ferocity. On the other hand, it wouldn’t work if everyone did it: getting more for yourself can only pay off for a few.
A question of fairness
In a situation of global scarcity, every vaccine one country receives is one that another has lost, which poses a special responsibility for states with power, money and vaccine manufacturing facilities to consider where the doses should go. Should the prey be the strongest, or are there fairness issues?
The US and UK have made a consistent and clear commitment to help themselves first. While both made promises To help others, this will only be done after they have met their own needs and there is no evidence that either country has exported anything at all.
The EU is probably that third largest manufacturer of vaccinesHowever, after the US and China, 17 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been exported to numerous countries and to Covax, the vaccine program for developing countries for which it is the largest supplier.
The western European vaccine producing countries have also agreed to supply the rest of their production to the EU as a whole to be made available per capita to all Member States. They have a policy of sharing with non-producing countries around the world and with their neighbors, which of course means less for themselves.
This is viewed as utter stupidity and failure by the UK government. It is Measure of success is how much it gets for people in the UK.
On the other hand, the EU hopes to achieve a level of vaccination against herd immunity in summer, probably just a month or two to Great Britain. This will have happened while showing some sense of global responsibility.