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"Very unfair" to accuse the EU of vaccine nationalism, says head of commerce

An employee in Schwaz, Austria, creates a syringe and container with the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine.

JOHANN GRODER | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – The European Union "is facing a serious situation" with the introduction of Covid-19 shots, but it is "highly unfair" to accuse the bloc of vaccine nationalism, the region's commercial chief told CNBC on Tuesday .

The EU has faced a number of problems since the start of its vaccination program Criticism, among other things, because it is too slow to approve vaccines and because it blocks the export of Covid shots.

At the same time, delivery issues with the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first quarter hampered the use of gunshots, and there are concerns in Brussels about whether contractual commitments will be fully met over the next three months.

"We are clearly facing a serious situation with the introduction of vaccines. We have to accelerate vaccination, we have to accelerate both vaccine production and vaccine supply," said EU commercial chief Valdis Dombrovskis to CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe".

The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, has worked with various pharmaceutical companies to increase vaccine production in the Member States. The facility wants 70% of Europe's adult population to be vaccinated by the end of summer.

Achieving this goal, however, depends on companies delivering the amount of vaccines expected by the bloc and on member states being able to distribute the shots among their populations.

AstraZeneca already has cut its delivery numbers for the first quarter twice and said it will distribute less than half of its original target for the second quarter.

We consider it extremely unfair to accuse the EU, which is one of the largest vaccine exporters, of vaccine nationalism.

Valdis Dombrovskis

Executive Vice President of the European Commission

Given the importance of the AstraZeneca shot to the EU's vaccination program, European officials are considering imposing stricter export restrictions. For example, you could prevent shots made in the EU from being sent elsewhere, particularly to the UK, where the vaccination rate is significant higher than among the 27 countries.

That triggered Allegations that the EU practices vaccination nationalism.

"We consider it extremely unfair to accuse the EU, which is one of the largest vaccine exporters, of vaccine nationalism," said Dombrovskis.

The EU reported last week that it had exported 41 million cans of Covid-19 shots to 33 countries since late January, with the UK being the largest recipient. At the same time, the EU has stated that it does not see the same level of reciprocity with other parts of the world.

However, the EU also stopped shipping AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia earlier this month due to delivery problems with the pharmaceutical company.

The legislation that allowed the EU to stop this broadcast expires at the end of the month. As a result, EU officials are considering whether to expand and tighten these laws in the future.

"What is important right now is that companies actually honor their contracts, as the problem we face, especially with a company that is not on the contract, is that vaccine shipments are falling far short of what was agreed "said Dombrovskis.

Over the next three months, the European Union expects 55 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson shot, 200 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 35 million doses from Moderna and 70 million more from AstraZeneca.

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