Vaccine: UK 'taken more seriously' by EU claims expert
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BBC Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban insisted there was a growing sense in Brussels that the vaccine crisis may have demonstrated the potential of Brexit Britain to grow into a considerable rival. He said the European Union had been taking the UK “more seriously” as a competitor as a result of Britain’s successfully vaccination rollout programme. The political expert told BBC Newsnight: “Up until then many people saw Brexit Britain as a bit of a joke.”
“Now they take it more seriously as a competitor,” he added quoting a Brussels source.
Mr Urban’s remarks came amid signs the EU’s management of the bloc’s vaccine programme has sharpened minds as to the future relationship between Europe and the UK.
This week a German minister hinted that a future EU would be dependent on the success of Brexit Britain in a surprising admission from the continent.
During a virtual discussion with Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng for the London School of Economics, he said: “The economic success and prosperity of Great Britain is still in the interests of the EU.”
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Chancellor Angela Merkel was warned Brexit is set to cost Germany more than £30bn in just two years.
The UK finally left the European Union on December 31 after Boris Johnson signed a historic EU trade deal on Christmas Eve.
And the cost of the decision for Britain’s European neighbours has now become clear in a bombshell report by the European Commission.
Without Britain, the EU will lose around 0.5 percent of its annual economic growth over the next two years.
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Across the bloc, this could total an estimated £121 billion and according to German magazine Focus, Ms Merkel’s nation will face an eyewatering individual price with losses of around £30bn.
Meanwhile, Ursula von der Leyen, the German president of the European Commission, has taken responsibility for the slow rates of vaccination across the bloc.
Following the end of the transition period, relations with the EU have soured following Brussels’ threat to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol.
This would have allowed the EU to taken emergency measures to block vaccine supplies heading to Britain from Europe.
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Although the threat to invoke the measure, has now been rescinded, officials have warned it has damaged relations while some Brexiteers have urged the Prime Minister to take out similar measures.
Last week the UK had urged the EU to agree to extend the grace period over goods entering Britain from Northern Ireland in order to aid trade.
Following a meeting with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, EU Commission vice-President Maros Sefcovic claimed no extension was needed.
Instead, he indicated the UK had not implemented the protocol adequately to avoid disruption to trade.
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