For more than eight hours, the European Commission and AstraZeneca clashed, by intermediary lawyers, Wednesday, May 26, before a summary judge of the civil court of Brussels. The first accuses the second of not having honored the contract (under Belgian law) which binds them and at the end of which the Anglo-Swedish laboratory should have delivered to the twenty-seven countries of the European Union (EU) 300 million – and not not 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021.
The EU accuses AstraZeneca of having privileged the United Kingdom to the detriment of the continent, and of having placed at the service of the British factories which were supposed to produce for the Twenty-Seven. The industrialist has “Hijacked” to other markets – Japan and especially the United Kingdom – “50 million doses”, on “Flagrant violation” of the contract concluded on August 27, 2020 between the two parties, thus accused Mr.e Rafael Jafferali. Consequence, according to him: the United Kingdom was treated better than the EU; as of May 21, it had received 37.7% of the AstraZeneca doses it had ordered, compared to 18.3% for its former European partners.
In this context, the EU demands that AstraZeneca deliver to Europeans 20 million additional doses by the end of June, and the 180 million missing vaccines in the third quarter. If the laboratory does not comply with this request, it requests that it be submitted, from 1is July, to a penalty of 10 euros per dose and per day. “AstraZeneca has acted in an opaque manner and exhibited a poorly characterized. We fear that [le groupe] does not comply with your decision ”, explained Me Rafaël Jafferali to the judge.
“There was no clear breach of the contract. It is very shocking to be accused of fraud ”, replied Me AstraZeneca lawyer Hakim Boularbah arguing that his client had, as stipulated in the contract, deployed “Its best reasonable efforts” to honor its commitments. But that difficulties related to the manufacture of the vaccine, developed in record time in the face of the pandemic, had prevented him from doing better. The defense explained that the group had informed the Commission. Just as he had warned, even before signing the contract, that his two British factories and its Dutch site would only run on behalf of Europeans once its contract with London had been honored.
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