File Photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
Export restrictions to Northern Ireland were being mulled in order to address the vaccine shortage in the continent
The European Union on Friday over threats to restrict vaccine exports to Northern Ireland. This followed after the UK voiced "grave concerns" over the proposed move. The EU had earlier warned that it would invoke Article-16 over its intentions to bar export of Europe-made vaccines to non-EU members. The move was being mulled in order to address the vaccine shortage in the continent. Invoking Article 16 results in overriding part of the Brexit deal that allow free-flow of good across the Irish border.
"The Commission will ensure that the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol is unaffected," the EU Commissioner said in a statement late Friday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier told EU chief Ursula von der Leyen of his "grave concerns about the potential impact" the European bloc's decision might have.
The European scheme to monitor and bar exports of vaccines produced in EU plants has also been criticised by the World Health Organization.
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The WHO said the move was part of a "very worrying trend" that could jeopardise the global supply chain for vaccines.
Although the EU has rowed back from the Article 16 threat, a Commission statement said if there were vaccines circumventing the European system, "the EU will consider using all the instruments at its disposal".
The EU earlier justified the "safeguard measure" as an attempt to keep member states' vaccine rollouts on track.
(With AFP inputs)