Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Union launched legal action on Monday against British-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca for its persistent delays and shortfalls in delivering the coronavirus vaccines ordered by the bloc, France24 reported.
“The Commission has started last Friday a legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the basis of breaches of the advanced purchase agreement”, European Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker said, clarifying that the lawsuit had been raised on behalf of all 27 EU member states.
Failure to observe terms
According to the Commission, member states are suing AstraZeneca for its reported failure to respect and observe the terms of the contract for the supply of vaccine doses, and for not having a “reliable plan” to ensure timely deliveries.
The company, on the other hand, claims the lawsuit has no merit and plans to defend itself in court. “AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court”, a company statement declared. “We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible”.
The delivery delays of the vaccine have seriously contributed to the problems the EU has experienced in its vaccination drive, since the Commission counted on the AstraZeneca vaccine as key to its plans to vaccinate the majority of the bloc’s citizens. Faced with repeated delivery cuts, the Commission has turned away from AstraZeneca, deciding not to pursue its option to order more doses from the company and instead has started to rely more on Pfizer’s shots.
“Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure timely delivery of doses”, the EC spokesman said. “We want to make sure there is a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to and which have been promised on the basis of the contract”.