Barnier accused of risking EU lives in 'petty' standoff over coronavirus medicines row

His refusal to accept David Frost’s proposal could mean any coronavirus vaccine which is ready to go risks being delayed by up to four months. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator slapped down the UK’s proposal which would have prevented the need for medicines, medical devices and a potential UK-produced vaccine to be tested twice in Britain and in the bloc.

Mr Barnier’s dismissal comes as trade negotiations with the UK are set to continue in Brussels next week following last week’s round in London.

His decision could mean companies are hit with huge costs due to the need to retest items that have already been given the all-clear.

The potential cost for firms is estimated to be in the region of hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

While medicines could take up to six weeks to be tested, vaccine testing is much more complicated and could bring about a delay of up to four months.

A UK Government official told The Telegraph: “The UK’s proposals on medicines and medical devices would provide significant benefits to patients, industry and regulators in the EU and UK, including by avoiding any new delays to access to medicines.

“We hope that the EU will engage with the proposal so that we can deliver these mutual benefits, which are particularly important in the current public health context.”

Sources in Brussels claimed that “onshoring” testing to the EU would put lives in the 27 member states at risk.

With less than six months to go until the end of the Brexit transition period, the sources claimed that most labs had readied themselves for the changes and had already transferred their credentials to EU jurisdictions.

READ MORE: Brexit delay: SNP demands Boris agree to EU’s six month extension

“Gravy train must be preserved and be fully stacked at all times.”

A second tweeted: “EU’s irrational protectionism is putting the lives of its own citizens at risk – surely member states won’t stand for this?

“The idea that British standards are not safe… they haven’t diverged.”

And a third said despite Mr Barnier’s slapdown, the finger of blame is routinely pointed at Brexiteers.

They said: “But, of course, it’s us Brexiteers who are the petty ideologues.”

On Sunday the Government announced a package worth over £700 million for the UK-EU border.

The money is to be spent on building new infrastructure, hiring staff and developing technology to ensure Britain’s border systems are fully operational when the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the major investment would ensure traders and the border industry are able to “manage the changes and seize the opportunities” when the transition period ends in December.

The £705 million package includes £235 million for staffing and IT systems, and £470 million for port and inland infrastructure to ensure compliance with new customs procedures and controls.

New border infrastructure will be built inland where there is no space at ports, while ports will get one-off financial support to ensure the right infrastructure is in place.



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