Kathleen Van Brempt told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Thursday that she was not in favour of the EU placing tighter controls on vaccine exports to Britain, but warned that the “only way out” of the deepening crisis was for the UK Government to agree to “fairness and cooperation”.
Her remarks came after Wednesday’s announcement that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would push ahead with attempts at toughening the bloc's vaccine export restrictions, despite both sides issuing a joint statement agreeing to work together to achieve a win-win deal.
“It's high time that everybody acknowledges that there is an imbalance between AstraZeneca vaccines going to the UK,” Ms Van Brempt told GMS, “and none of the vaccines coming back from the UK to the EU.”
The Party of European Socialists politician said the argument that Britain should receive its full consignment of vaccine ahead of other countries because it had been first to secure an exclusivity deal with AstraZeneca was “a very selfish way of looking at things”.
“Maybe using all the power that you have and the money that you have to get as much vaccines as possible [is] the game you can play.
“But that should not be the way we play as Europeans,” she added.
Ms Van Brempt warned that, if a vaccine sharing agreement was not reached, an escalating crisis could see both sides resort to retaliatory measures.
“The worst case scenario is that Europe will not ramp up its production because the UK will block ingredients that we need for our vaccines.
“And the UK will not get extra vaccines because there will be a ban coming from Europe and from the rest of the world.
“And everything will slow down - that is the real issue - everything will slow down.”
She added: “The only way out is via fairness and cooperation.”