Author Topic: EU first as Italy blocks export of 250,000 COVID vaccines to Australia  (Read 235 times)

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EU first as Italy blocks export of 250,000 COVID vaccines to Australia
By Euronews with AP    Updated: 05/03/2021 - 14:47

https://www.euronews.com/2021/03/04/eu-first-as-italy-blocks-export-of-covid-19-vaccines-to-australia

Australia has asked the European Commission to review the decision by Italy to block a shipment of coronavirus vaccines headed to its shores.

However, a Commission spokesperson later said that the executive was not aware of any specific request from Canberra.

The move from Italy marked the first time a new EU export control mechanism has been used.

The government of Mario Draghi, Italy's newly appointed prime minister, asked Brussels for the export to be blocked last Friday which the European Commission later approved.

The shipment contained 250,700 doses, according to the Italian government.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Friday that the country "has raised the issue with the European Commission through multiple channels, and in particular we have asked the European Commission to review this decision."

"It's a reminder that it's a very, very, very competitive world," he added. Hunt said AstraZeneca had a "deep, broad, global supply chain" and that vaccine doses manufactured in Australia would be available "from late March."

How was the Italian decision taken?
In a statement on Thursday, the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry said it received an exports authorisation request from AstraZeneca on February 24. The ministry consulted with other administrative bodies in Italy, which "expressed a negative opinion".

Two days later, Italy sent the Commission its refusal to grant the request and Australia was notified of the decision on March 2, before the news became public.

The Italian ministry cited three main reasons for blocking the shipment of vaccines:

- Australia is not considered a vulnerable country, according to the EU exports control regulation.

- The EU and Italy had experienced shortages of supplies and delays from AstraZeneca.

Italy argued that too many doses are being exported outside the bloc in comparison to those being supplied to EU countries.

Brussels evaluated both the Italian assessment and the export request by AstraZeneca and decided to green-light the blockage, a
Commission spokesperson explained, putting emphasis on the fact that AstraZeneca has failed to fulfil its contractual obligations with the European Union.