BRUSSELS — The European Union is willing to see its COVID-19 vaccine contract with AstraZeneca fulfilled three months later than agreed, providing the company delivers 120 million doses by the end of June, a lawyer representing the bloc said on Tuesday.
The lawyer was speaking in a Belgian court as proceedings in a second legal case brought by the European Commission against AstraZeneca over its delayed delivery of vaccines got underway.
Officials familiar with the case said the lawsuit is mostly procedural – pertaining to the merits of the issue – after a first case was launched in April, and would allow the European Union to seek possible financial penalties.
However, the EU asked in court on Tuesday for a symbolic compensation of 1 euro for what it deems a breach of contract by AstraZeneca.
A lawyer for AstraZeneca complained in court that the EU’s executive had launched a second case given that one had already been opened.
AstraZeneca had originally agreed with the EU to deliver 300 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, but has so far delivered only 50 million.
The EU’s lawyer told the court that the bloc could accept the full contract of 300 million to be delivered only by the end of September, but the company should deliver 120 million doses by the end of June.
AstraZeneca’s lawyer told the judge that it “hopes” to deliver 100 million by the end of June. (Writing by John Chalmers and Jan Strupczewski Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)