EUROPE’S shambolic jabs rollout was dealt another crushing blow last night as a French vaccine maker canned talks with Brussels.
Valneva, which has a deal with Britain and will make its shot in Scotland, slammed EU red tape as it broke off contract negotiations.
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
Its announcement is a major embarrassment for Ursula von der Leyen, who was put in charge of buying jabs on behalf of the bloc.
The chief eurocrat has come under fire from across the continent after the bungled scheme led to a shortage of supplies.
Valneva said it will “deprioritise” talks with Brussels but wants to work with individual EU capitals on a “country by country basis”.
Chief executive Thomas Lingelbach fumed: “We’ve committed significant time and effort to try to meet the needs of the central procurement process.
“Despite our recent clinical data, we have not made meaningful progress.
“We are now concentrating our efforts on EU member states and interested parties outside the EU.”
Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes said the move was a damning indictment of the “wall of red tape and out of touch bureaucracy in Brussels”.
He fumed: “Self-determining, fast and nimble national governments win the race every time, as the UK proved with its the vaccine rollout.
“This proves we don’t need a Bigger Europe but a Better Europe, which is done not through endless bureaucracy but national governments that are closer to their people.”
Britain poached the French start-up from under Emmanuel Macron’s nose after he refused to fully stump up for research into its jab.
Unlike other vaccines on the market, Valneva’s shot is based on an “inactivated” version of the Coronavirus itself.
The UK has a contract with the company for up to 190m doses, which will be made in Livingston, West Lothian.
Brussels had finished “exploratory talks” over an order of 60m jabs, but that will now go no further.
Early trials have shown the vaccine provokes strong immunity, with more than 90% of recipients developing significant antibodies.
The firm plans to apply for regulatory approval in the UK this Autumn.
Europe’s jabs rollout has sped up in recent weeks but is still lagging miles behind ours.
The EU has reached fewer than one in five of its people, and only 7% have got both jabs.