Photo credit: Marc Mueller / MSC, (CC BY 3.0 DE https://bit.ly/3omTMvt)

EU chief “deeply regrets mistakes” on Irish border

“Mistakes were made” regarding the use of Article 16, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, referring to the controversial blunder that caused turbulence regarding Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit status.

The comment was made in an address to the European Parliament regarding the EU’s vaccine rollout, which she admitted had been far too slow, and that the challenges involved had been severely underestimated.

“Allow me a word on the island of Ireland. The bottom line is that mistakes were made in the process leading up to the decision, and I deeply regret that. But in the end we got it right,” she told the parliament.

“I can reassure you that my Commission will do its utmost to protect the peace of Northern Ireland, just as it has done throughout the entire Brexit process.”

Irish MEPs had called on Ms. von der Leyen to explain how exactly the error was allowed to happen.

Von der Leyen claims that 26 million new vaccine doses have been delivered to the EU, and that by the end of this summer 2021 70% of adults in the EU27 should be vaccinated.

“And yet it is a fact that we are not today where we want to be in the fight against the virus,” she added.

“We were late with the approval. We were too optimistic on mass production. And perhaps we were also too certain that the orders would actually be delivered on time.”

However, she defended the commission’s running of the vaccine orders, arguing that it would have been unfair and “economic madness” for the EU if only the larger member states had guaranteed doses.

She also said that the EU could not justify rushing its approval of vaccines that were being injected into people’s bodies, making sure they were safe, even if this set the bloc back 3 or 4 weeks compared to other countries and international bodies.

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