Back to their old games of trying to punish us for Brexit
It’s like in the old, pre-covid days: Brussels is back in the headlines, and it’s not a pretty sight. This time it’s not just about the NI Protocol and the return of Frost, it’s about the Oxford vaccine – again. There’s the first fall-out from the budget as well. One other interesting development is that we’re suddenly spared all those scare graphs about who all ‘has it’ or ‘is dead’ . Instead we’re getting a full dose of that unspeakable couple and what all they’ll say in yon interview. Can the paper editions still be usefully re-purposed, as fish & chips wrappers or to line the bottom of birdcages or would that be a ‘health risk’?
Firstly, a brief mention regarding the budget fallout. Predictably, there are warnings that local councils will rise their taxes next month, in a ’stealth tax raid’ – because Sunak has allowed them to increase that tax by up to 5% without consultation (paywalled link). The cap used to be a 2%.
I’m in awe of the brilliant economic minds in Whitehall who still don’t seem to be aware of the irrelevant fact that people whose wallets are emptied by taxation don’t have money left to buy the stuff the economists rely on to make the economy grow. Well, I suppose we can all stop buying British and buy Chinese – it’s cheaper, innit, and it would make the CCP happy and given them more money with which to buy up our educational and other establishments.
I bet the CCP would not permit the outcry from the usual suspects, “Our Heroes of the Sacred Cow”, who feel ‘insulted’ that their projected pay rise will only be 1% (see e.g. here). I seem to remember vaguely that they got a huge pay rise a year ago “because: covid!” ,but that is irrelevant to the combined forces of the trade unions, as irrelevant as the fact that this money will come out of the pockets of the rest of us who are already facing unprecedented tax rises. Is the NHS becoming the new ‘nomenklatura’ in a ‘health dictatorship’, where the purpose of our country and economy is simply to fuel and support the NHS empire?
And so to the EU and the latest example of Brussels pigheadedness. You recall that in the not-so distant past Ms vdLeyen broke the NI protocol to ‘prevent’ the AZ (Astra Zeneca) vaccine being smuggled out of the sacred EU through the border between Ni and Eire. At the same time the EU had dragged their feet to give approval to that vaccine. That was followed by a concerted campaign to denigrate the vaccine, starting in France. None other than Macron was telling the French it was a useless vaccine, followed by Germany where the general outcry was even worse.
This was followed by the abysmal performance in EU countries – especially France and Germany – of mass vaccination, not even making use of their stock of the Pfizer vaccine. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands doses of AZ vaccines are lingering in the depots in various EU member states because ‘people don’t want it’.
Now, suddenly, they do want them and so Italy has blocked the export of 250,000 AZ doses to Australia:
“Italy and the EU have blocked a shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines heading to Australia from a factory near Rome as anger simmers in Europe over the slow supply of doses. The decision to stop 250,000 doses leaving the bloc is the first time a rule on controlling vaccine exports has been used since it was introduced last month. It risks stoking national tensions. Australia was to start inoculations with the Oxford vaccine today.” (link, paywalled)
Oh dear! Never mind that Italy isn’t actually manufacturing this vaccine, it’s only being re-packaged into the usual vials by a firm near Rome – look at this:
“Italy has 1.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines and has administered 322,800 doses. In total, it has given out 4.75 million vaccines from all companies.” (paywalled link)
So they do have sufficient vaccines – which they’ve not used! Now see this and remember that ‘vaccine nationalism’ was a dirty expression a scant few weeks ago:
“Under the rules, manufacturers in the EU must ask national authorities in the country of production and the European Commission for permission to export vaccines outside the EU. Italy blocked the export of the vaccines and the commission did not raise any objections, the Financial Times reported. Rome notified Brussels of its decision at the end of last week. Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, who took office in February, called for stricter export controls at an EU summit last month. He was described as “defending Italy’s national interests”.” (paywalled link)
Mr Draghi, whose name might ring a few bells here and there, went even further:
“Italy’s new prime minister Mario Draghi told Ursula von der Leyen over the phone on Wednesday that it was necessary to ‘suffocate’ the pharmaceutical giants to force them to meet their contractual obligations, according to Italian daily La Republicca.” (link)
Oh dear. What better illustration of the Brussels mindset could one want: ‘suffocate’ manufacturers, to force them to toe the latest EU line. While David Davis told the DT that this is disgraceful behaviour, “David Jones, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, said it looked like “piratical” behaviour.” (paywalled link). So it is, but there’s more:
“An EU diplomat told The Times: “Italy has sent a crystal clear message to AstraZeneca: contracts are to be honoured. AstraZeneca’s vaccine delivery to the EU will fall short by millions of doses in the first quarter of 2021 alone, putting at risk the lives of 30 million EU citizens. Being in this situation, not making up for it, not even offering excuses to the people they have let down and then asking for an export authorisation is a very brazen move. Italy rightly stopped it.” (link, paywalled)
Yes – it’s AZ ‘putting EU lives at risk’, not the EU by the slow and shambolic roll-out of mass vaccination in their member states, not by the concerted effort of EU member states denigrating the Oxford vaccine as ‘useless’ and ‘dangerous’ nor by their feet-dragging in approving the AZ vaccine. This is how Brussels works!
So it can come as no surprise that the EU is now ‘contemplating legal action’ against the EU after BJ unilaterally extended that grace periods for Northern Irish supermarkets by six months and is now doing the same for parcels delivered to NiI from the UK mainland (paywalled link). Just savour the fabricated outrage from the usual suspects in Brussels, their threats, being totally oblivious to their own bureaucratic intransigence which made these moves necessary:
“Brussels could hit Britain with legal action, suspend the trade deal with the UK and block the City of London from the Single Market in retaliation for Boris Johnson’s unilateral delaying of the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Mairead McGuinness, the EU financial services commissioner, said it was important to “send a message” to Britain about Brexit, as the fall-out from yesterday’s announcement that Britain would delay grace periods on checks on GB food imports to Northern Ireland continued.” (paywalled link)
Yes, ‘EU Pacta sunt servanda’, else there’ll be ‘retaliation’ rather than an attempt to solve the problem pragmatically. This statement from the Irish foreign minister, Mr Simon Coveney, takes the proverbial though. He told the RTE:
“If the UK cannot simply be trusted because they take unilateral action in an unexpected way without negotiation, well then the British government leaves the EU with no option and that is not where we want to be,” (paywalled link)
Wait a moment – wasn’t that precisely what Ms vdLeyen did when she stopped implementation of the NI agreement because of the alleged ‘smuggling’ of AZ vaccine doses from the sacred EU across the NI border? Are the memories of Brussels commissioners and Irish ministers so short that they’ve already forgotten?
Do they never ask themselves why we in the UK should trust them when they give example after example of ‘unilateral action without negotiation’, brandishing their ‘pacta sunt servanda’ while allowing people in NI to starve – ‘empty shelves in supermarkets’, remember – just so that they can keep punishing us for Brexit? Meanwhile the EU commissioner Mr Sefcovic is flexing Brussels muscles, uttering threats:
“Brussels has warned it will launch legal action “very soon” after Britain unilaterally delayed implementation of part of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice-president, said the announcement by the Government on Wednesday was a “very negative surprise”. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Sefcovic said the European Commission was now working on “infringement proceedings” against the UK. “We are currently preparing it and it would be really something coming to our table very soon. The most precise term I can give you is really very soon,” he said.” (paywalled link)
We must all tremble in our boots, that’s fersure! Remainers will try and have another field day, not noticing that clinging to Brussels where ‘pacta’ can be unilaterally broken if it serves Brussels is not precisely patriotic. Methinks Lord Frost won’t be unduly shaken, not least because since the 1st of March – the day Frosty started in his new job – cher Michel is now out of his job.
When will the boneheaded Brussels Commissioners and our Remainers understand that their continuing to play one game while everybody else is playing a different game, with different rules, is a sign of political senile dementia …