The European Commission is expected to decide Friday on a “transparency and authorization mechanism for the export of vaccines” from the European Union following a dispute with vaccine manufacturers over reduced supplies to the bloc, the Commission’s Chief Spokesman Eric Mamer said.
Two EU officials said Thursday that it was not an export ban -- instead, companies wanting to export coronavirus vaccines from the bloc would need to notify the national governments and wait for authorization.
“Any exporting company would send into the national authorities their plan what to export, when, to whom and so on, and what amount, and the national authorities will then be allowed to check that, and to give an authorization or a refusal,” one EU official told reporters.
“That of course has to happen very quickly, so it's a question not of weeks, but the question of hours,” the official added.
“We are not proposing to impose an export ban, what we want to do is to monitor how the funds that we paid from the EU budget have been used and how the advanced purchase agreements that we concluded with pharmaceutical companies are producing vaccines for our citizens,” a second official said.
In a letter to several European leaders on Thursday, European Council President Charles Michel said he “welcomed” the European Commission's proposal.
Michel added that if “no satisfactory solution” is found with vaccine manufacturers to resolve the supply issue, the EU should “make use of all legal means and enforcement measures at our disposal.”
The new mechanism would not impact humanitarian aid or Covax, the global initiative aiming to distribute some 2 billion vaccines to poorer countries.