EU: Laura Huhtasaari hits out at institution’s ‘economic problems’
Laura Huhtasaari, a member of the right-wing Finns party, made her remarks in the wake of European Commission’s decision to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Irish Protocol, prevented vaccines from crossing the border. The decision was reversed after furious protests from London and Dublin, with Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin admitting he had received no prior warning of what Brussels was planning.
Arch eurosceptic Ms Huhtasaari said irrespective of the climbdown, the entire episode – and the EU’s problems with its vaccine rollout operation generally – reflected very badly on the Commission president and former German defence minister.
She told Express.co.uk: “The handling of vaccine purchase has been a clear failure of the European Commission led by Ms Ursula von der Leyen.
“The aborted attempt to impose a vaccine import ban on Northern Ireland underlined this and cast a dark shadow on the Commission’s credibility and ability to lead the EU through difficult times.
Laura Huhtasaari has criticised European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin
The Commission’s apparent rush to suspend part of the Northern Ireland Protocol has raised serious questions about the EU’s “trustworthiness” as a contracting party with the UK, Ms Huhtasaari said.
She added: “Just remember with which fervour the EU preached the UK about the importance of adherence to the content of the agreement.
“Moreover, the Commission failed to consult or even inform Ireland, the EU Member State most affected by the decision, of its intention.”
Laura Huhtasaari speaking in the European Parliament
This is a healthy reminder of the fact that the EU is incapable of securing the interests of its Member States
Ms Huhtasaari, who has spoken frequently about her admiration for Brexit, said: “This is a healthy reminder of the fact that the EU is incapable of securing the interests of its Member States.
“The nation state is still a political model that most efficiently guarantees the security and wellbeing of its citizens.
“This gives a clear impetus for the EU member states not only to abide by their sovereignty and repatriate EU powers, but also to follow the path chosen by the UK and to withdraw from the EU.”
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Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commissioner for Trade
Emmanuel Macron, France’s President
Ms von der Leyen has been under pressure this week after the details of its aborted blockade bid emerged, especially as the EU has already faced criticism for insisting on a bloc-wide approach to the procurement of vaccines, rather than allowing each member of the EU27 to make its own arrangements.
Speaking on Sunday, Pieter Cleppe, a research fellow with the think tank Property Rights Alliance, even suggested her job was at risk.
He told Express.co.uk: “For now, she apparently still enjoys the German government’s support, but if more failures related to EU vaccine policy would appear and if that would have a clear effect on the Covid pandemic in the EU, it is not excluded she’ll resign under the pressure.
Ursula von der Leyen factfile
“For now, she has been weakened. This will also have an effect on negotiations on smoothening East-West trade in Northern Ireland.”
Ms von der Leyen herself has attempted to sidestep the blame.
On Monday her official spokesman, Eric Mamer. told reporters: “What I can tell you is that there is one cabinet which was lead on this, that is Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis because he is in charge of trade.
“This regulation falls under the responsibility of Mr Dombrovskis and his cabinet and of course the services of the commission which respond to him.”
Covid vaccinations live
Speaking to the BBC today, Oxford’s vaccine trial chief Andrew Pollard said the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca gives good immune responses in older people, even if there is a lack of data about its exact efficacy.
Asked about a reported comment from French President Emmanuel Macron that the vaccine was “quasi-ineffective” among people over 65, Mr Pollard said: “I don’t understand what that statement means.
“The point is that we have rather less data in older adults, which is why people have less certainty about the level of protection.
“But we have good immune responses in older adults very similar to younger adults, the protection that we do see is in exactly the same direction, and of a similar magnitude.”
— to www.express.co.uk