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Conservatives call on First Minister to write to EU over vaccine export ban threat

24 Mar 2021 3 minute read
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Andrew RT Davies. Pictures by Senedd Cymru (CC BY 2.0).

The Welsh Conservatives have called on the First Minister to write to the EU to complain about potential vaccine export bans.

The EU are expected to announce changes to their export authorisation scheme today, possibly reducing exports to nation-states that have higher vaccine coverage – including the UK.

The argument centres mainly around the AstraZeneca facility in the Netherlands, and the competing demands of the EU and the UK on doses being produced.

Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies, has called on Mark Drakeford to send a strong message to the EU and its leaders on the issue.

Andrew RT Davies said that the behaviour of EU leaders had been “appalling” and that “Welsh lives were at stake”.

“When it came to Brexit, the First Minister and his Labour comrades couldn’t dash to Brussels quick enough,” he said.

“They’d pen letters on a regular basis in the desperate hope of overturning the will of the Welsh people.

“However, when it comes to the EU’s recent threats to block the export of life-saving vaccines to Wales, they’re silent and it’s shameful.

“The appalling behaviour of EU leaders is putting lives at risk not just in Wales, but the rest of the UK and Europe. It must stop.

“From fuelling conspiracy theorists and scaremongering, to these threats of such outrageous and direct action, the EU is putting our citizens at risk.

“It’s disgraceful and Labour’s First Minister should now pen another letter, but one that actually stands up to the EU, and sends a strong message that their antics are completely unacceptable.”

‘Benefit us all’

Answering questions on the issue in the Senedd yesterday, Mark Drakeford said that they needed their “friends” in Europe to come to an agreement with the UK Government on the matter.

“We all face the challenge of coronavirus. It has no respect for any national boundaries,” he said.

“We all face, therefore, the challenge of vaccination together, and we need an agreement between us all as to the best way in which that can be secured for the benefit of all.

“The Prime Minister will be in further discussions with European leaders today and tomorrow. I will have a meeting later today with Michael Gove, as head of the Cabinet Office; the First Minister of Scotland; and the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, where we will be discussing this matter again.

“That’s my message to friends and colleagues elsewhere. We resolve this matter by discussion and agreement. That is the way to make sure we go on working for the benefit of us all.”

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