On the Covid vaccine, compromise is possible. But relations are on a downward spiral and the damage will be lasting
The pandemic is landing well-aimed punches on the already bruised relationship between Britain and the European Union. A dispute over vaccine supplies threatens to bring blunt instruments of trade war down on delicate national feelings. Not in the darkest hours of Brexit negotiations did either side imagine that supply-chain management would so quickly become a matter of life and death.
At a summit later this week, European leaders will discuss a possible ban on exports to the UK from an AstraZeneca plant in the Netherlands. There is frustration in Brussels that millions of vaccine doses have gone overseas (mostly Pfizer ones) and none have come over in return. The UK responds that it cannot be blamed for moving earlier, signing better contracts and generally getting its immunising act together faster.