(Brussels) The Belgian judge responsible for expedited arbitration of the dispute between the European Union and AstraZeneca laboratory over the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines required by the 27 member states will issue its decision within a month at the most, said the Belgian judge. Friday.
A short hearing was held on Friday afternoon before the summary judge of the Brussels Court of First Instance to allow the latter to pose some technical questions to the parties.
The judge announced that the sentence would be delivered “within the legal time limit” (ie, one month before).
In this lawsuit, the EU in particular criticizes the Swedish-British laboratory for having granted a concession to supply the UK at the expense of the 27, which caused significant delays in deliveries planned in the contract with Brussels at the end of August 2020.
After a failed amicable settlement attempt, the European Commission (which negotiated these advance purchases on behalf of the 27 EU countries) decided at the end of April to refer the case to Belgian justice, where the signed contract is governed by Belgian law.
10 million euros a day to start
In concrete terms, the EU is asking AstraZeneca to use six vaccine manufacturing sites to meet scheduled deliveries, under penalty of a daily €10m penalty in the event of a breach.
Among the main requirements is the request of “non-operating” British manufacturers to move production to the continent, the master emphasized.e Rafael Jafarali, an EU lawyer.
AstraZeneca confirmed on Friday that “the European Commission informed last summer, during the tender process, that the British government would have priority over the British supply chain.”
The laboratory said in a press release that “material evidence was presented” during the trial “contrary to the commission’s erroneous arguments.”
The European bloc is also asking the judge to impose another fine of “10 euros per dose and for each day of delay” if the deadlines are not met.
200 million euros per day from July
This exposes AstraZeneca to a possible fine of €200 million per day from 1he is July, according to the calculations made during the trial proceedings.
In fact, the lab could be late in delivering 20 million doses from June 30, if only 70 of the 90 million it had requested had been delivered by the EU by that date.
The European Union accuses AstraZeneca of delivering in the first quarter only 30 million of the promised 120 million doses of the vaccine, and demands that the remaining 90 million have been received by June 30.
The European Union has ordered a total of 300 million doses of AstraZeneca serum. The laboratory is committed to handing over the kit before the end of the year, while the European Union is demanding that everything be received by September 30 at the latest.
During the discussions on May 26, AstraZeneca, in its lawyer’s voice, refuted any “violation” of the contract as charged by the European Union. The signed text “does not stipulate binding deadlines” for deliveries, said one of them, Mr.e Hakim Boularbah.
“We continue to fulfill our commitment to provide this vaccine equitably to the world, including the 300 million doses requested by the European Union, and this is without profit during the pandemic,” the laboratory added.