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EU Nations Split Over Need to Renew Vaccine Export Controls

  • Several diplomats said the mechanism is no longer needed
  • Controls aimed to ensure sufficient vaccine supply in Europe

Pfizer Inc. Covid-19 Vaccine Production Site
Photographer: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg

Several European Union governments are pushing back against a proposal by the bloc’s executive arm to extend controls on vaccine exports, according to people familiar with the matter.
The European Commission is intent on renewing the Covid-era mechanism that allows it to track where vaccines are exported to and to block shipments under certain circumstances, the people said.
But at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, several diplomats said they no longer saw the need for export controls now that the EU has sufficient vaccine capacity to meet its vaccine demand. Envoys from a handful of nations were among those to question the rationale for renewal, according to officials.

An EU official said the mechanism, which doesn’t amount to a complete export ban, has provided clarity on where vaccines produced in the bloc are going. And the instrument is still needed due to the potential emergence of new variants and the possible need for booster shots, the official added.