Brussels also announced that it will not buy the 100 million units it had available under the initial agreement. The pharmaceutical company said that the allegation has no basis
The European Commission (EC) announced this Monday that it has reported to the Belgian ordinary courts to the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca understanding that it has not respected the terms of the vaccine contract signed with the Community Executive for the whole of the European Union (EU).
“Our priority is to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine deliveries occur to protect the health of the EU. For this reason, the Commission has decided, together with the Member States, to initiate legal proceedings against Astrazeneca. Every dose of vaccine counts. Every dose saves lives, ”said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides on Twitter.
The Community Executive had made it known that it was consulting with the Member States about its intention to prosecute the dispute with AstraZeneca, which delivered just 29.8 million vaccines in the first quarter and expects to deliver just 70 million more in the second compared to the promised 300 million doses. “Last Friday, the Commission initiated legal actions against the AstraZeneca company, based on the breach of the advance purchase agreement,” said the spokesman for Health of the EC, Stefan de Keersmaecker, at a press conference.
For its part, the laboratory responded that it “has fully complied with” the vaccine sales agreement against COVID-19 with the European Commission and that therefore it will “defend itself strongly” in court.
“We believe that any litigation is unfounded and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement.
According to the EC, the pharmaceutical company has not respected “some terms of the contract” and “the company has not been in a position to provide a reliable strategy to guarantee delivery of the doses.” “The Commission has taken these legal actions on its own behalf and on behalf of the 27 Member States of the European Union,” he stressed.
Brussels had indicated last week that it was finalizing a lawsuit against the laboratory, which under the contract signed last August must be settled in the Belgian courts. But before filing the complaint, the Commission wanted the support of all EU countries and some, such as France, Germany or the Netherlands, claimed to see the legal document before introducing it to court.
He also announced that he will not buy the 100 million additional doses to which he had a choice, according to the agreement signed by the EC, which centralizes the purchase of doses for the Twenty-seven.
This is yet another step in the tense relationship between the Commission and AstraZeneca since the beginning of the year, when the company announced that it would fail deliveries without providing, in Brussels’s view, convincing explanations as to why.
The Community Executive asked in a letter to the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company on March 19 explanations for its delays, thus initiating the dispute resolution procedure provided for in the contract that has now reached the courts.
In an eventual civil lawsuit, which would take several months, the Europeans could request “the termination of the contract for breach, with damages, or the performance [de las entregas], something that is unlikely ”, estimated last week the Belgian lawyer Arnaud Jansen, who studied the contract.
Most EU countries have limited the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the very rare cases of blood clots it can cause. Denmark no longer uses it.
(With information from EFE and AFP)