Brexit: Northern Ireland treated ‘different’ says DUP’s Paisley
The European Union has a target of vaccinating fully at least 70 percent of the population in each member state by the end of the summer, but this objective seems to be unrealistic. So far, the bloc has only managed to administer about 8.9 million doses in total, about two for every 100 citizens. On the other hand, the US and the UK are running at seven and 10.5 respectively, while Israel is at 43.
Many believe the consequences of this failure could be disastrous if they are not addressed quickly.
Last week, the EU, AstraZeneca, and the UK engaged in a vicious war of words, with Brussels demanding the drugs company redirect UK-made jabs to make up for a manufacturing shortfall in Europe.
On Friday evening, the row escalated further as the EU said it would be triggering an emergency provision in the Brexit deal to control coronavirus vaccine exports, including the possible introduction of checks at the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland to prevent shipments entering the UK.
After fierce condemnation from London, Belfast, and Dublin, the EU performed a swift U-turn.
However, in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Johnson’s trade adviser Shanker Singham warned the “damage was done” and the trust between Ireland and Brussels “eroded”.
EU humiliated as Ireland ‘highly suspicious’ of Brussels after ‘border blunder’ row
Covid vaccinations live
Mr Singham explained: “It was a spectacular blunder.
“It is quite hard to imagine doing anything worse than this.
“And the speed in which they said they can under certain circumstances put a border on the island without consulting anyone… it has without a doubt affected their relationship with Ireland significantly.”
The trade expert added: “The Irish government must be highly suspicious of anything the EU is doing or saying now.
“Because if I were them, I wouldn’t think the EU has necessarily my best interests at heart.
“Obviously, the EU has 27 member states with their own interests… so the notion that they would privilege the Irish has never made much sense.
“But it has now made the Irish understand they are not a priority in respect to the EU.”
Mr Singham claimed Brussels did backtrack in the end – but noted “the damage was done and trust eroded”.
JUST IN: Nicola Sturgeon crushed as Joanna Cherry said she’d ‘love leader role’
Trade expert Shanker Singham
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
On Sunday, the Irish Prime Minister lashed out at the European Union over its threat to Northern Ireland, admitting he was one of those “blindsided” by the announcement.
Mr Martin said he had been given no advance notice of the intention by the EU to trigger Article 16 of the Brexit Protocol.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show he was first aware of it when the bloc made the public announcement on Friday night.
The Taoiseach said he articulated the “very serious implications” the move would have and engagement began between his office and the office of President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
He said: “I had a number of conversations with President von der Leyen and, in the aftermath of those, I also spoke, of course, to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and we discussed the implications of all of this, and the importance of getting a resolution by the close of that evening, Friday evening, and thankfully the commission did issue a statement pulling back and reversing its decision.”
Mr Martin also criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for suggesting – contrary to all available evidence – that the AstraZeneca jab did not work for those aged over 65.
Macron warned France faces ‘significant delay’ amid vaccine fiasco [INSIGHT]
Nigel Farage’s fury with CPTPP: ‘EU’s prototype for world governance’ [REVEALED]
Germany on brink as Merkel’s successor on collision course with EU [ANALYSIS]
Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen
He said: ”I don’t think politicians should pronounce on the efficacy or otherwise of vaccines.”
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s This Week, though, Mr Martin claimed he still has faith in Ms von Der Leyen.
He said: “I’ve had a very good personal engagement with the President of the Commission but mistakes were made here.
“We’ve made the point that there needs to be engagement on all fronts to dealing with those issues in terms of the smooth operation of the protocol.”
Mr Martin also said that he does not foresee a poll on a united Ireland in the next five years.
He added: “Brexit has created its own consequences and impact in terms of what may happen in Scotland, and my own view I was very anxious to avoid conflating Brexit with the island of Ireland issue in terms of unity.
“Right now I think more the important aspect is to fulfil the potential of the Good Friday Agreement, and in that context, a poll of that kind was always meant to be the end of a process of building up full reconciliation and understanding, and I don’t think we’ve optimised the potential of the agreement enough.”