Macron backs EU vaccine export controls, sees more French restrictions

PARIS (Reuters) -French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he supported stricter EU export controls on vaccines for drug companies that do not meet their contractual commitments with the European Union.

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“It’s the end of naivety,” Macron told reporters after a virtual EU summit.

“I support export control mechanisms put in place by the European Commission. I support the fact that we must block all exports for as long as some drug companies don’t respect their commitments with Europeans,” he added.

Macron said the EU had been late in ramping up vaccine production and inoculations, but was catching up and would become the world’s biggest producer of vaccines this summer.

He added that the EU, unlike other countries, had exported a big part of its production instead of keeping it for itself.

“Europe is not a selfish continent. Because when I read what the press on the other side of the Channel writes, we’re being accused of being selfish. Wrong! We let our supply chains untouched,” Macron said.

“But we saw that the United States tend to protect their own vaccine production ... that the United Kingdom did not export many doses. Actually, none. So we put in place an export control mechanism.”

Macron, who is facing a third wave of the coronavirus epidemic at home, defended his decision to not impose a third lockdown at the end of January, against the advice of many scientists.

“I have no mea culpa to make, no regrets. We were right to do that,” Macron said.

But Macron said he was preoccupied by the situation in French hospitals and new restrictions will probably have to be taken in the coming days or weeks.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Leslie Adler