UK’s shifting position on (non)participation in EU coronavirus scheme

Matt Hancock, U.K. health secretary, and Simon Stevens leaving Downing Street | Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images


UK’s shifting position on (non)participation in EU coronavirus scheme

A timeline of who said what about the UK’s decision not to join with the EU to buy medical equipment to tackle the pandemic.


4/22/20, 6:15 PM CET

Updated 4/22/20, 7:18 PM CET

LONDON — The U.K. government has struggled to explain its decision not to participate in an EU scheme to jointly procure medical equipment needed to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Back in January, the European Commission began discussions about a program to jointly buy ventilators and protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Since early March, various members of the U.K. government have given differing accounts of the U.K.’s involvement and its decision not to join.

Here’s a reminder of who said what when.

March 3: POLITICO’s Ashleigh Furlong asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a press conference about whether the health secretary was coordinating the U.K.’s response to the pandemic with his counterparts in other EU countries. Johnson did not answer the question and instead focused on the “global response.”

March 17: The European Commission confirmed Britain was still “eligible to participate in these joint [procurement] procedures” despite formally leaving the EU on January 31.

March 19: Liberal Democrats call for Britain to take part in the EU’s scheme.

March 26: No. 10 initially said it would not take part because the U.K.

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