In response to Mr Morton’s email (published in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday on Saturday, the 24th of April; https://newsday.co.tt/2021/04/24/shame-on-eu-uk-canada-and-the-us/) criticising the EU, and others, I wish to bring the following facts to you and your readers’ attention.
Amid continuing and unevenly distributed shortfalls in production globally, the EU is the only OECD producer that continues to export vaccines, including to countries:
• that have production capacities of their own but have found ways to restrict exports;
• whose epidemiological situation is less severe than the EU’s; and
• that are further advanced in the vaccination of their citizens.
For the EU, respect of the “pacta sunt servanda” principle, a fundamental principle of law is of paramount importance, and therefore even in these challenging times it does not give up adhering to the basic principles of law.
In the period 1 February – 13 April, alone the EU approved the export of 113.5 million doses to third countries.
The EU remains fully committed to international solidarity and its international obligations. The EU has so has so far exported more doses worldwide than administered internally.
Team Europe (EU + its 27 Member states together), with EUR 2.2 billion, is the largest contributor to COVAX. Under COVAX team Europe will ensure vaccine delivery, to 92 low and middle-income countries covered by the COVAX facility and the export of vaccines purchased and/or delivered not only through COVAX, but also through UNICEF and PAHO with intended destinations in any other COVAX participating country.
In respect of other vaccine producing countries exports may, and do, still take place with licences granted upon the bases of proportionality and reciprocity.
In particular for TT and the wider region, since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 the EU has responded and supported the health sectors, the infrastructure capacity, the medical equipment worldwide, including the Caribbean.
The health response was in particular rapid and effective.
Within weeks of the beginning of the pandemic, the EU signed a EUR 8 million programme to support Caribbean countries in their outbreak control operations through the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), with an immediate disbursement of almost EUR 5.5 million.
The EU provided also direct Budget support which allowed governments to deliver essential services and loan guarantees to boost economic activity and safeguard livelihoods.
Specifically concerning Trinidad and Tobago the EU has signed a grant contract with Trinidad and Tobago’s Red Cross Society, in support of migrants and refugees.
The EU has been contributing to socio-economic recovery through a new Innovation programme (worth EUR 8 million) geared towards supporting a competitive and innovative economy in Trinidad and Tobago.
Trinidad and Tobago will receive 100,800 AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility in total. The total cost would be US$504,000, however, of this amount T&T will pay US$343,162. This is because the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has received a grant from the European Union to assist those countries that fall under CARPHA’s remit and thus Trinidad and Tobago will be receiving from CARPHA US $160,838 for the purchase of vaccines. This means that T&T’s Government will be paying only US $343,162 for the 100,800 doses due to the EU’s support.
Lastly, the EU intends to share vaccines with our partner countries in parallel to accelerating the EU’s own vaccination plans. From the statement of the 27 leaders after the last European Council held late March: “The European Union will continue to strengthen its global response to the pandemic. Work on setting up a vaccine-sharing mechanism must be taken forward rapidly so as to complement and support COVAX’s leading role in ensuring universal access to, and deployment of, vaccines.”
The EU remains fully committed to international solidarity and strongly supports the principle that any measures deemed necessary to prevent or relieve critical shortages are implemented in a manner that is targeted, transparent, proportionate, temporary and consistent with WTO obligations.
As the European Commission President Von der Leyen has stated on the pandemic “None of us will be safe until all of us are safe – wherever we live, whatever we have.”
Acting Head of Delegation