The German government on Sunday threatened legal action against laboratories that “do not meet their obligations” to deliver vaccines to the EU, as tensions mount over delays by British company AstraZeneca.
“If it turns out that companies have not met their obligations, we will have to decide on legal consequences,” Economics Minister Peter Altmaier threatened in an interview with the German daily Die Welt. “No company can favour another country over the EU after the fact,” he added.
In recent weeks tensions have been rising between European leaders and the British laboratory AstraZeneca, which has been running behind schedule with the delivery of its covid vaccine. The group said it could deliver only “a quarter” of the doses originally promised to the EU in the first quarter, citing a “drop in yield” at a European plant.
The European Union implicitly accuses AstraZeneca of favouring Britain in the delivery of its vaccines, to the detriment of its contractual obligations with Brussels.
The EU reacted by adopting an export control mechanism on Friday for vaccines produced on its territory. This mechanism will make it possible to “speed up vaccination”, assured Minister Peter Altmaier.
However, the British group is not the only laboratory blamed by EU leaders for its delays. Last week, Italy also threatened legal action against Pfizer in the United States over delays in vaccine delivery.
In Germany, a national meeting is scheduled to take place Monday between German authorities and vaccine manufacturers to discuss the delays. The tensions come as AstraZeneca received approval for its vaccine in the EU on Friday. It is the third vaccine to receive the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), following those of Pfizer-BioNTech on December 21 and Moderna on January 6.